CONOR McGregor has taunted UFC rivals amid his ongoing layoff, as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s camp made the bold declaration that he would not fight Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title.
UFC president Dana White recently said that Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov was likely to happen before Ferguson (the interim champion) got a crack at McGregor. White said that McGregor would keep the main lightweight belt if he was willing to fight the winner soon afterwards but stripped of the belt if he insisted on remaining inactive until late in the year – which would make Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov for the full, vacant title.
Whatever, the looming outcome, McGregor had this message for his rivals:
Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz said an interim title fight was not an option for the 25-0 phenom from Dagestan.
“Khabib’s next fight, we’re not fighting for no damn interim belt,” Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting. “We want the real belt, or we don’t want nothing.
“We appreciate everything the UFC has done for us but it’s time for a real belt. Nobody is interested in fighting for a fake belt. Tony Ferguson has a fake belt. Nobody wants this.”
Long-time UFC colour commentator Joe Rogan believes that McGregor will be stripped of his 155-pound title, leaving Khabib and Ferguson to contest the true lightweight championship.
“Here’s my prediction: My prediction [is] Conor doesn’t fight for a while. They strip Conor,” Rogan said on the JRE MMA Show podcast. “Tony and Khabib fight for the world title.
“I think they’re going to strip him, because Conor’s got $100 million in the bank and he’s having fun and talking s*** and he’s going to keep training.
“And he’s going to make a big fight in the future but I think Khabib and Tony is the big fight … they might even do that one in Russia. They’re talking about doing a big fight in Russia.”
Nurmagomedov's father and trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov recently spoke with MatchTV.ru and offered a solution for another scenario: If McGregor came back early and fought Ferguson. In that case, he said Nurmagomedov should fight former champion Eddie Alvarez.
“I think that Conor, Diaz, and Ferguson, instead of fighting with Khabib, will be better off against each other 30 times,” Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov said. “If Conor and Ferguson fight among themselves, give us Alvarez. He said that he was preparing Barboza for Khabib. Well, let’s see, let him go himself now.”