Following claims by Jose Aldo that he was offered an interim lightweight title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Dagestani fighter has now come out claiming he only has his eagle eyes set on fellow leading 155lb contender Tony Ferguson.
The jostling for position within the UFC lightweight division is well and truly underway and it’s all playing out in public. Earlier this week current featherweight champion Aldo claimed the promotion had offered him the opportunity to fight Khabib for an interim championship, whilst the actual champ of the division, Conor McGregor, takes a hiatus.
But Nurmagomedov took to Instagram to reveal he had no interest it the Aldo option and is focused only on facing Ferguson. “Aldo says, referring to me, that I refused to fight with him. Tell him that I do not bully the little (man),” Nurmagomedov posted. “I want a real battle, and only Tony can give it to me. At this stage of my career, even if I (beat) Daniel Cormier, fans will say that I have to fight with Tony, and I agree with them.”
Nurmagomedov then went on to tell Aldo not to fall for any behind the scenes negotiation or ‘mind games’ from the promotion. “I have spent my career in the UFC asking for the strongest opponents, currently in this division we must decide who is stronger, me or Tony?” Nurmagomedov said.
“Without exception, all the fans and experts want to see this fight and I want to give it to them. And you, Aldo, I advise you not to lose the respect of your fans, including me, do not lose your head, do not fall for the mind games of the UFC, and be yourself.”
Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz then also reiterated to Fox Sports that the only fight to make at 155lb while McGregor is out is Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson.
“I think Tony (Ferguson) deserves it,” Abdel-Aziz said. “He’s a good fighter. I think he deserves it even more than Conor. I don’t blame him for wanting to get paid at all. I think he deserves it, but sometimes when you have an interim belt you have even more negotiating power.
“I can’t knock him for wanting to get paid but Khabib didn’t get any extra money to fight him. He thinks Khabib, he mentioned something about Dana (White) paying Khabib. That’s not true. Khabib has a contract. Whatever his contract is what he’s going to get. We didn’t do a new contact for this fight, we had a contract. It would be distasteful if it’s not Conor or Tony fighting Khabib.”