Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson was scheduled to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 209 co-main event for the interim lightweight title on March 4. The winner would have earned a title unification bout against champion Conor McGregor, but the fight never took place.
Nurmagomedov was forced off the fight card when he was hospitalized the night before the event's official weigh-in. Ferguson made weight for the interim title fight, but was left without an opponent. He didn't get to fight that night, but was prepared to.
In shape, uninjured, and mentally ready to enter another fight camp, Ferguson is eyeing a match-up against Nate Diaz.
“The only person that I want to go toe-to-toe with that’s less than top two is Nate Diaz. I’d love to go toe-to-toe with him. For everybody else that’s out there, they probably don’t deserve a shot with me,” he said during an appearance on UFC Tonight. “Myself, the fans, and everybody else out there, would love to see that fight. The battle of California baby, let’s do this.”
Ferguson is ranked second in the 155-pound division behind top-ranked Nurmagomedov. He holds wins over fourth-ranked former champion Rafael dos Anjos and fifth ranked Edson Barboza. A fight against eighth-ranked Diaz makes a lot of sense.
“I want to fight one of the best fighters in the world that’s out there as far as lightweight contention. I’ve put in my time. I’ve put in my numbers,” he said.
“El Cucuy” didn't get the chance to earn the interim title. McGregor isn't expected to return to the Octagon anytime soon, maybe not until 2018. Ferguson called for the Irishman to relinquish the belt so he can fight for it in July.
“If Conor wants to leave the belt, and wants to pursue some sort of victory in the boxing world, which I don’t think he will, the dude’s got a puncher’s chance. I mean, vacate the belt right now. Drop it. Leave it where it’s at and we’ll fight for the belt during International Fight Week.”