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Khabib Nurmagomedov never considered this UFC rival as an “elite Lightweight”

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson is set for UFC 249
Khabib Nurmagomedov (L) faces off against Tony Ferguson (R) during a press conference (Digital Trends)

Khabib Nurmagomedov had some harsh words for former UFC interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov might never take place since the fight seems to be cursed but The Eagle opened up on his rival recently.

Khabib was speaking to ACA fighter Magomed Ismailov (h/t Bloody Elbow) and explained why Ferguson was not an elite fighter.

Khabib and Ferguson were to meet at UFC 249. However, the fight was changed and Justin Gaethje stepped in.

Justin Gaethje celebrates winning the UFC interim Lightweight title at 249
Justin Gaethje celebrates after defeating Tony Ferguson in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Gaethje destroyed Ferguson and went on to challenge Khabib. El Cucuy, for his part, hasn’t been the same and Khabib brought out his thoughts on Ferguson:

“I swear that I never considered him [Ferguson] as an elite lightweight.”

Who won the fight at UFC 254?
Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates his victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Khabib went on to say that Ferguson was “very good” but he never counted him so. The Russian then explained why it was tough for Ferguson to be an elite Lightweight:

“It’s impossible to be an elite at 37 years (of age). It’s never been before and Khabib cannot do this. At 37 years in the lightweight division, no way, but heavyweights can.

“It’s my opinion and you cannot change it. Secondly, since 2016 he fought Kevin Lee, Edson Barboza, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone and these four fighters have 20 losses for these four years.”

Younger fighters getting the better of Tony Ferguson

The last fight for Ferguson was against Charles Oliveira. However, El Cucuy was comprehensively beaten in that one too and Khabib brought up how younger fighters were getting the better of Ferguson:

“He faced young and top fighters, I mean Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony.”

Charles Oliveira was in great shape against Tony Ferguson
Charles Oliveira of Brazil punches Tony Ferguson in their lightweight bout during the UFC 256 event at UFC APEX on December 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Khabib then added that he was dreaming about this fight but destiny didn’t seem to have the same plans:

“I was just dreaming about this fight. But it wasn’t destined, we had injuries in a row.”

Khabib is now retired from MMA and seems set to lose his title. Dana White confirmed that an unofficial Lightweight tournament is on but he still hopes that Khabib will be back.

It will be interesting to see what is next for the UFC great. He is 29-0 and Georges St-Pierre could be the 30th fight that could see him come out of retirement.

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Written by Saiyed Adeem Karim

Ditching a corporate job to follow a dream isn't easy, but when football comes calling, who can say no? Been following the beautiful game since 1998. Liverpool addict, F1 fanatic!

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