Tony Ferguson questioned the absence of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor from UFC 249 as he prepared to face Justin Gaethje, the Russian’s replacement.
Ferguson had been set to face Nurmagomedov last month, before the latter pulled out because of flight restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The event was later postponed.
A behind-closed-doors fight was rescheduled for May 9, yet both lightweight champion Khabib and rival McGregor will be absent in Jacksonville, Fla. Ferguson is set to instead face Gaethje for the interim title, a status he previously held before losing it because of injury.
That decision still rankles — as does the failure of two of the sport’s biggest names to appear despite the ongoing global crisis.
Ferguson, who removed his protective mask early in his latest news conference, claimed on Tuesday the pair “fell off the face of the f—ing earth” and were “a bunch of f—ing bitches.”
“My hardcore understanding is that I do have the belt,” he added at the UFC’s virtual media day Thursday. “I shouldn’t have been stripped.
“You’ve got good old meathead, f—ing fathead Khabib. He didn’t want to fight. He ran away like a dog with his tail between his legs. It’s the same thing with Conor.
“‘I’m gonna be next, I’m gonna be next’ is what everybody said. But where the f— are they at? Obviously they’re back home trying to quarantine and obviously we’re here crushing quarantine.”
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Ferguson was asked again about Khabib but preferred to focus on Gaethje, replying: “I don’t give a s—.”
“To me, that fight [with Khabib] doesn’t even exist,” he said. “The fight that is going to happen is UFC 249.”
Gaethje only signed to UFC in 2017 when he vacated his World Series of Fighting lightweight title.
“This is everything,” he said. “I’m fighting for my life, for everything I’ve worked for in my life. This is a culmination of events that has led me to here.
“It’s one day at a time, one fight at a time. I never thought I would be here. But the fact that I’m here? I’m a competitor, I’m a show-off, I know how many people are going to be watching.
“I’m going to go out there and perform — that’s what I do. Even if I didn’t want to, it’s in me. I was made for this.”