Khabib Responds to Aldo’s Accusations

Khabib Nurmagomedov is dead-set on proving he’s the best lightweight contender in the world, and to do so he’ll have to beat Tony Ferguson — not Jose Aldo.

Earlier this week Aldo, the featherweight champion, said that the UFC offered him an interim title fight against an opponent who turned the bout down — hinting that he was referring to Nurmagomedov.

Khabib took to Instagram on Wednesday and responded to Aldo’s accusations. He did not deny that he turned the fight down, explaining that he wants to prove his status as the top lightweight challenger. The only way to do that is to defeat Tony Ferguson.

“Aldo says, referring to me, that I refused to fight with him,” Khabib wrote. “Tell him that I do not bully the little. I want a real battle, and only Tony can give it to me. At this stage of my career, even if I win [against] Daniel Cormier, fans will say that I have to fight Tony, and I agree with them. I have spent my career in the UFC asking for the strongest opponents, currently in this division we must decide who is stronger, me or Tony?

“Without exception, all the fans and experts want to see this fight and I want to give it to them. And you, Aldo, I advise you not to lose the respect of your fans, including me, do not lose your head, do not fall for the mind games of the UFC, and be yourself.”

The bit about UFC mind games is perhaps the most significant piece of Khabib’s message. This whole situation seems like a bit of de ja vu: Prior to UFC 205 in November, Nurmagomedov was offered two bout agreements to fight lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. After reports that Alvarez and the UFC were disputing about the money they’d pay him for a fight with Conor McGregor, it was clear that the UFC was using Nurmagomedov as a negotiation pawn. Alvarez-McGregor was made for UFC 205, and Khabib’s two contracts got him nowhere.

With Tony Ferguson discussing his own back-and-forth with the UFC over his contract on social media, there is a chance that Aldo’s interim lightweight title fight offer may be more smoke and mirrors.

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