Tony Ferguson appeared on ‘The MMA Hour’ and opened up about how Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement affected him. In the latter years of their feud, the pair showed immense respect for each other, however, even after being pegged to fight five times, the stars never aligned for Khabib and Ferguson.
Ferguson will take on Paddy Pimblett at UFC 296. The Lightweight bout was announced a few weeks ago but no one had predicted it. The fight announcement came out of nowhere, so, Ariel Helwani asked Ferguson about the backstory of the announcement. Ferguson’s detailed explanation led him to talk about Khabib and the scenario after his retirement.
He said, “I know when Khabib left uh a little part of me left with [him]. That kind of sucked a little bit because we’ve always had that, that, I don’t want to say negative energy, but that hype that was built around that, and then when that disappeared and the pandemic hit then f*cikng team left and then just a whole, there was nothing else left for me kind of…
“What I told myself is I wanted to compete. I wanted to compete enough so that way maybe possibly win or lose Khabib would come back.”
He further talked about how they were scheduled to coach together at ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. However, even that did not materialize.
Khabib last fought in October 2020 against Justin Gaethje. He won the bout via a second-round submission. The Russian retired from fighting with an extraordinary record of 29-0.
Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov was canceled five times in as many years
At a point in time, Ferguson and Khabib were two of the best Lightweight fighters in the UFC. A fight between the two was first planned for December 2015, for the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 22. Khabib was 22-0 and Ferguson was on a six-match winning streak. However, Khabib, who had not fought for a year because of a knee injury, injured his rib before the bout which led to it being canceled.
They were slated to fight next in April 2016 at a UFC on Fox event to be held in Tampa, Florida. This time, just a few days before the fight, Ferguson pulled out citing an issue with his lung. He wrote on X, “… I Will Heal Up. I Will be Back.”
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) April 5, 2016
Their next scheduled fight was set to take place in March 2017. It was supposed to be a co-main-event on UFC 209 for the interim Lightweight championship. The fight was canceled again, this time because of Khabib being hospitalized due to some weight management issues. Ferguson, in a classy response, wished Khabib well on his road to recovery.
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) March 3, 2017
A year later, Ferguson vs. Khabib was set up for a fourth time. They were set to fight at UFC 223 but Ferguson had to pull out as he required surgery on his lateral collateral ligament.
The fifth time was supposed to be the charm. They were scheduled to fight again two years later in April 2020. However, the pandemic struck and the travel restrictions led to another cancellation.
At this point, everyone accepted the harsh truth that we would never get to see Ferguson vs. Khabib.