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Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘I swear I never considered Tony Ferguson an elite UFC lightweight’

Khabib Nurmagomedov retired late last year after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

With that announcement went the hopes of the ultra-lucrative and explosive chances of Khabib taking on Conor McGregor once more.

Dana White and Khabib had their meeting on Fight Island, but White has been unable to tempt Khabib back
@DanaWhite | Twitter

McGregor’s loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 seemed to be the final nail in that coffin, but another matchup we’ll never see is Khabib versus Tony Ferguson.

UFC tried to make that fight five times. Five times!

Injuries and finally COVID-19 always got in the way of the lightweight showdown and the last time they were set to meet they were both on 12-fight win streaks.

Things are very different now. Justin Gaethje stepped into Khabib’s place last May and dismantled Ferguson, earning a shot at The Eagle later that same year.

Ferguson and Nurmagmedov have never been able to make the fight happen

Ferguson tried to rebound against Charles Oliveira and came unstuck once again to record his second loss in a row.

Speaking during an interview with ACA fighter Magomed Ismailov, Khabib says he never believed Ferguson was a top fighter.

“I swear I never considered him an elite lightweight,” Khabib said of Ferguson. “He was very good but I never counted him so because it’s impossible to be elite at 37 years old. It’s never been before and even I 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. These fighters have 20 losses for these four years! It means that since 2016 he didn’t fight good fighters. But now he faced young and top fighters, I mean Charles Olvieira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony.”

Khabib makes a few good points here. Ferguson’s age being one of them and having to combat young, hungry fighters.

But still, to say didn’t fight any good fighters since 2016 is a strong statement!

Tony Ferguson’s career has gone downhill in his last two fights
Getty Images – Getty

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