Lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov 24-0 has an eye to returning to UFC 219, on Dec 30 in Las Vegas. Khabib last defeated Michael Johnson via submission last November at UFC 205. Despite not yet competed for this year in MMA, but he is ready to clash newly interim lightweight champ, Tony Ferguson as he recovered from long illness and determined to compete by the end of this year.
Khabib speaking to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, discussing his career and that he is back on training keeping an eye to pick a Tony Ferguson fight at UFC 219.
“We have almost 12 weeks, 11 weeks before UFC 219,” Nurmagomedov said. “And now is the beginning a very interesting moment in my life. I hope UFC gives me a championship fight. End of the year, I want to take everything back. Attention, belts; I want to take everything. End of the year, I want to fix everything. And we’ll see what happens. But first of all, I think UFC has to make the fight, Conor versus Nate Diaz 3, and after, me and Tony.
“Because, my opinion, I think Tony Ferguson is the real champion. That’s why. I don’t think, if I fight versus Tony Ferguson, this is an interim belt. Officially, yes. But people want to see me versus Tony Ferguson. I think this is a much better fight, for everything. If I beat Tony Ferguson and take the interim championship belt — Conor’s the official champion, but he’s not the people’s champion.”
Khabib believes many of his fellow MMA fighters aim for money fight against Conor Mcgregor, for me, El Cucuy is a better option to pick a fight that bears more weight, not for monetary gains. Nurmagomedov also called Trilogy fight is a money fight for UFC, but me versus Tony is the real fight.
“My opinion, I have to fight with Tony,” Nurmagomedov said. “All of my fans, everybody wants this fight.
“For me, everything isn’t about money. For me, it’s what my father wants, my team, my management team, my friends. This is more important for me.”
Nurmagomedov said, his health issues have been fixed and feeling 100 percent first time since his last win over Rafael dos Anjos. Khabib is working hard to get inside the cage for UFC 219 to fight Tony that’s one dream fight I want, even though nothing has been official yet.
“I don’t feel [people have abandoned me]. This is what I feel, I understand a lot of fans. They treated me like, ‘Hey, you have to fight,’ but I agree with this,” Nurmagomedov said. “It’s why I tried to come back. It’s why I’m going to hospital, having surgeries. People think I love surgery? I don’t think somebody loves surgery.
“Trying to come back, training every day — every day, training full-time — this is not easy. I agree with fans, I have to fight. I have to make weight. I have to stay professional. I agree with this. But when I fight, I all the time smash my opponents. All the time, when I fight. Now I have one goal, and by the end of the year, one dream fight: This is fight versus Tony Ferguson. This is what I want.”
Due to off botched weight cut, Khabib fell ill and couldn’t able to fight with Tony earlier this year at UFC 209. He knows El Cucuy’s focus is currently on a potential fight with Conor Mcgregor. Khabib is confident that he will get Tony’s fight, as Tony Ferguson’s choice matters little when it comes to select the opponent.
“I don’t think he makes the decision,” Nurmagomedov said. “What happens if UFC tells him, ‘Hey, Conor is going to fight with Diaz. You have to fight with Khabib.’ What happens? He has to take this fight.
“And I want to send a message: Enjoy this belt. He deserves this, 10 (fight) win streak. My opinion, he’s the real champ, and he has to fight with me. We have to fight, and we have to do this fight for all the fans. Now I am ready, now I am healthy. Last time, I made the problem. This is my fault, last time. I know this. But before, he pulled out too. You have to remember this. Now he’s the real champ. Enjoy this. See you at the end of the year.”