It looks like the fans may finally get to see Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov share the Octagon, at last! Tony suggested in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani that he is willing to let go of the grudges he held against Khabib previously. He also expressed the wish to coach a season of TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) opposite The Eagle.
Khabib Nurmagomedov also seemed interested in the idea as he asked the UFC to sort out an arrangement. In case the company does not agree, Nurmagomedov is even willing to arrange something similar in his own promotion, Eagle FC. In reply, Tony reminded Khabib that they are independent contractors. He also accused the former 155lbs champ of owing him $200,000. Tony wrote,
We’re Private Contractors Fathead Remember? We Can Smell Ya 🍮🍮 From All The Way Over Here 🦨 Lay Of The Sweets Meat Head. Now😎You Work For Me, BTW You Still Owe Me 200K & 20 Push-Up For The Homeless 🔱 Keep Runnin’ It’s Tiramisu🥇Tuesday- Champ 🖕😎 -CSO- 🇺🇸🏆🇲🇽 ‘Merica MF pic.twitter.com/LS9WK4rI12
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) May 17, 2022
In the tweet, Ferguson was referring to an incident that took place in 2017. The landscape of UFC was very different then from what it is now. Conor McGregor was the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. El Cucuy was also a top-ranked contender at the time. But Khabib’s career was drifting a bit as he could not find an elite opponent to fight him. Hence, Khabib offered Tony an extra $200,000 on top of his purse if he agreed to face him.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 2, 2017
It seems like Tony Ferguson has not forgotten about it. Since 2017, the bout between him and Nurmagomedov was booked 5 times. But they failed to make it to the Octagon each time. Their last scheduled fight was due to take place at UFC 249. But a worldwide pandemic in 2020, made Khabib pull out of the contest. It made Tony take on Justin Gaethje for an interim title. Since that contest, Ferguson has been on a 4 fight losing streak. Whereas Khabib retired later that year after beating Gaethje at UFC 254.
Will UFC book Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson for the sixth time?
UFC never turns down an opportunity to make a super fight whenever it favours them. They booked Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal 2 at UFC 261 despite Jorge not necessarily warranting it. Dana White also commented on Conor McGregor possibly getting a title shot for his return fight. It proves that the promotion is always in the hunt for a big fight.
But the question becomes, is there an appetite for the fight anymore? As mentioned previously, Tony Ferguson is on the worst run of his career. But it has to be mentioned that Tony has not lost his credibility just yet. The prospect of him having another big payday will certainly excite the fans.
Despite his retirement, Khabib remains one of the most popular and respected individuals in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. But, has the lack of activity diminished his skills? That can be a possible selling point for the bout if it gets booked.
The current talks suggest that Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov want to be a part of TUF. The show has not drawn a lot of ratings since its initial run. Hence, the pairing of two of the most popular fighters in recent memory will certainly boost the ratings for the show. As a result, UFC may look to book the dream matchup for the sixth time based on purely business opportunities.