Khabib Nurmagomedov Says Tony Ferguson Was the Reason He Returned to UFC

Published 05/15/2021, 3:52 AM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Tony Ferguson interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Former interim UFC lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson, will return to action this weekend. He will take on Beneil Dariush in a crossroads fight in his career. Even as he has continued fighting all opponents, fans can’t still get over the fact that they were deprived of seeing Ferguson fight Khabib Nurmagomedov.


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The UFC scheduled ‘The Eagle’ to fight ‘El Cucuy’ on 5 different occasions. However, multiple cancelations because of different issues meant the scrap actually never materialized. Nevertheless, ahead of UFC 262, a fascinating part from Nurmagomedov’s autobiography has emerged online.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has a fascinating assessment about Tony Ferguson


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Nurmagomedov has explained how Ferguson was the reason behind his return to the UFC. The Dagestani fighter once considered walking away due to the injuries he sustained.

‘The Eagle’ wrote, “Sometimes I felt certain gratitude towards the guy. I have already written that my desire to return after three of severe injuries and having almost decided to end my career was ignited because of my overwhelming impulse to meet El Cucuy and punch him on the head so that he would look at life differently.


That was the way it was. The possibility of finally silencing this poorly brought up dude became one of the main reasons for my returning to the cage,” ‘The Eagle’ further added.

I have a set of emotions towards this guy like those that would flood me in the streets of Makhachkala at the age of sixteen or twenty, when I saw in front of me an impudent lout who was boasting how strong he was.

I never had missed the opportunity to thrash such a smarta** and at the same time to check which of his claims about his abilities was true. So I looked at Ferguson and continue to do so with eyes full of sarcasm and anger. I assure you that my attitude promised nothing good for Tony,” wrote Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov called Tony Ferguson a non-entity

Yet another paragraph from Nurmagomedov’s autobiography has emerged online. ‘The Eagle‘ has lauded Ferguson as an athlete here. However, he trashed Ferguson’s behavior and explained his methods of mental warfare as dirty.

Work on the preparation for the fight was as usual, occasionally interrupted by laughter and irony about Tony’s latest attack about me in the media. And in fact, it was funny to watch an opponent trying to unsteady you mentally, without even realizing that the methods he used were like a little tickle. Everything went as per usual,” wrote Nurmagomedov.

“For some reason, he was abusive from the very beginning of our interaction, not being embarrassed at all with the expressions he used. I quickly realized that it was a way of asserting himself. What for? I could not understand it. Yes, of course, what is called trash talk is an aspect of the to and fro at the UFC, but Ferguson immediately began to transgress all reasonable boundaries.

I myself like to tweet something against a future opponents or ‘experts’ on Twitter and Instagram posts, but what ‘El Cucuy’ does cannot be supported in any way,” wrote Nurmagomedov.


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“It is pure dirt. I gradually formed a particular contempt for Ferguson as a person. To be precise- as a person. I think it is wrong to treat him badly from a sporting point of view: he is a fine fighter, a winner, a champion in my division for a period and the possessor of one of the longest winning streaks in the UFC.”

“He is definitely a great athlete. However, a completely mediocre upbringing and the behavior it has generated makes him sometimes merely a nonentity,” added ‘The Dagestani’.

Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson: The fight that never happened

As mentioned earlier, the UFC booked the bout between the two best lightweights in history on five different occasions. However, that fight never materialized. Now, as Nurmagomedov has retired, the chances of it happening in the future are slim to none.


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El Cucuy‘ is currently on a 2-fight skid for the first time in his career. He will look to bounce back among the elites of the 155lbs division of the UFC with a win this weekend. Do you think these words from his great rival will impact his bid to arrest his slide?

Also, could fans thank Tony Ferguson for being Nurmagomedov’s inspiration to return?


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Apratim Banerjee

1191 articles

Apratim Banerjee is an MMA author for EssentiallySports and has been writing professionally for almost a year. Before his current gig, Apratim worked as a UFC writer for Sportskeeda. A long-time MMA fan, Apratim has developed a critical eye for the sport that has helped him transfer his vast knowledge to his copies and give hardcore and casual readers a detailed insight into the fights and fighters.