Tony Ferguson appears to be all but a signed, sealed, and delivered lock for the next UFC lightweight title shot. At least, according to current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Dustin Poirier.
Nurmagomedov and Poirier are set to headline UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where they will unify their belts. While both are of course focused on the fight in front of them, Ferguson is one element of the future that they whole heartedly agree upon.
UFC superstar Conor McGregor may be itching for a rematch with Nurmagomedov, primarily because he wants the lightweight title back after having been submitted by him in October of 2018, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards.
McGregor could possibly get a shot at Nurmagomedov if he loses to Poirier, but neither champion intends to skip over Ferguson when one of them emerges from the Octagon at UFC 242 as the sole proprietor of lightweight gold.
“There’s only Tony Ferguson,” Nurmagomedov said during Friday's UFC 242 media call. “I think he deserves (a shot at the belt). Who else is there? Nobody. Only Tony Ferguson.”
Poirier said the nearly the same thing in his UFC 242 media call earlier in the week. “One hundred percent, it’s Tony Ferguson without a second guess. Without any bargaining, it’s Tony Ferguson. No doubt.”
In fact, Nurmagomedov didn't even want to discuss McGregor during his conference call. The two have a sordid history that doesn't appear anywhere near becoming amicable in the future.
“I don’t want to talk about (McGregor). We have Dustin Poirier, we have a lot of stuff, please let’s talk about real stuff,” said Nurmagomedov, who sees Poirier as the more difficult challenge when comparing him to the Irishman.
“I think maybe right now Dustin is a more complete MMA fighter than him. Because he beat a lot of good guys in the lightweight division and I don’t remember when Conor win in the lightweight division. I think he only beat (Eddie) Alvarez and he have only one win in the lightweight division in a long, long time," Nurmagomedov stated.
“That’s why I think Dustin Poirier is a much better fighter than him.”
Ferguson holds an overall record of 25-3. He won the thirteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He's gone 15-1 in the Octagon, including holding the interim UFC lightweight championship at one time.
Ferguson has been scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov on several occasions, but their attempts have been thwarted every time by injury or other medical issues.
In his last three bouts, Ferguson has steamrolled the likes of Kevin Lee, Anthony Pettis, and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.
Tune in Saturday, Sept. 7, at a special EARLY START TIME of 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT for full UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier live results from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to unify his belt with that of interim lightweight titleholder Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 main event.