Khabib Hints At Not Giving Conor Title Shot
Last week, the UFC announced that interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in Brooklyn.
As of now, Ferguson’s interim title will be on the line at Barclays Center, but UFC President Dana White said that if actual lightweight champion Conor McGregor doesn’t return to the UFC soon, the organization will strip him of the belt and allow him first crack at the title whenever he chooses to return.
While being interviewed at the MetroPCS UFC 220 Livestream over the weekend, Nurmagomedov said that after he beats Ferguson, McGregor will not be a top priority for him and that the current lightweight champion will have to “get in line” to earn a shot at the title.
“I’m gonna make humble Conor,” said Nurmagomedov.
“I’m gonna beat Tony and I’m gonna say to Conor, ‘Hey, you have to go into the line,’ because you have to deserve this. He has only one fight at 155. I am 25-0 at 155. Undefeated. Undisputed.
“I’m going to take this belt, and we’ll see what happens.”
Nurmagomedov’s willingness to pass on a McGregor fight stands in stark contrast with almost every other person in the sport. Nurmagomedov says he’s not interested in “money” fights, only in his legacy.
“I understand this. Fighters try to make money with Conor but I’m not in this sport to make money. I can make money with other stuff in Russia, like a lot of money. I come here to make history, for my legacy.”
Before Nurmagomedov can ever reject McGregor though, Ferguson awaits him, even though Nurmagomedov isn’t too worried about how the fight will go, saying all he has to do is show up and he will “humble” Ferguson.
“I have a tough opponent,” said Nurmagomedov. “Tony Ferguson, for my opinion, he’s real champ, and I’m gonna smash this guy. This is my plan. I’m going to smash this guy, make this guy humble too because he’s a little bit stupid. He’s tough opponent, very good fighter, but personality, I don’t like him.
“I have to come to show [with] no injuries, make weight, and that’s it. Somebody has to close us inside the cage and that’s it. I’m gonna beat him everywhere. My grappling is a different level than him. He thinks he’s grappling with Eddie Bravo and he’s good on the ground but I’m gonna show him.”
Nurmagomedov fights Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.