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07th Mar 2020

Khabib shows Tony Ferguson what he thinks of his belt

Patrick McCarry

“I go a little bit… a little bit crazy, yes.”

Tony Ferguson will see this as a minor victory on his way to the main event at UFC 249. Khabib Nurmagomedov lost his composure after assuring us all, not so long ago, that those antagonistic days were behind him.

For Nurmagomedov, he must pine for chances to fight men like Dustin Poirier. In between his on-again, off-again saga with Ferguson and the foul blood between himself and Conor McGregor there was Poirier. Sweet, respectful Dustin.

‘Diamond’ had nothing but good things to say about Nurmagomedov before the pair faced off in Abu Dhabi, last September, and he was completely outclassed by the UFC lightweight champion. Job done, ‘The Eagle’ even donated his t-shirt to Poirier’s charity and said he would match any bid that came in for it on eBay.

Perhaps, we thought, the Dagestani was being true to his word when – not long after he sparked a mini riot at UFC 229 – he vowed that he would be all about respect for there-on out.

Fast forward to March 6 and the UFC 249 press conference with Ferguson. Both men have been slated to face off in The Octagon on four previous occasions but injuries and botched weight cuts have intervened each time.

It has led to a lot of frustrations, on both sides and amongst MMA fans. And so, it was not going to take much for these men to get riled up.

That certainly seemed to be Ferguson’s mission as he interrupted and insulted the champion at various junctures. Nurmagomedov started off nice and composed but gradually lost his cool and resorted to calling Ferguson a liar for claiming he grew up fighting on the streets of his native Michigan.

By the time it came to the face-off, Nurmagomedov was in no mood when Ferguson laid his UFC belt, which he was stripped of more than two years ago, down and demanded that the champ do the same. In no uncertain terms, Nurmagomedov showed his opponent what he thought of his belt by kicking it away.

Credit: UFC (via YouTube)

Following the press briefing and face-offs, Nurmagomedov told ESPN why he lost the cool.

“Honestly, when I go to the press conference I think I want to be nice. You know I don’t want to go crazy. You know? But, when he talk about street fight, I go a little bit… A little bit crazy, yes.

“Because this guy never fight in street. What are you talking about? Who? You know, I have a lot of fight in street. This guy never fight. Because in America, you cannot fight in street. But I grew up in Dagestan, everyday I fight in the street.

“You talk about street fight? Because people don’t understand. Maybe people think I am like him from America. But I am not from America. You know? I am from Dagestan and we fight all the time here.”

Don’t tell Khabib Nurmagomedov that you fought in the streets, especially if you are an American. It’s enough to set him off. Ferguson will duly take note.

All going well, the pair will face off at the Barclays Center (sic) on Saturday, April 18.