The ex-interim UFC lightweight champion stumped for a fight against the winner of the Sept. 7 title unifier, saying he’s earned it with a 12-fight winning streak.
Ferguson indicated a preference toward facing the current interim lightweight champ, but he also welcomed a long-awaited showdown with undisputed titleholder Nurmagomedov – whom he’s been scheduled to fight on four occasions – at the end of the year.
More important than anything, Ferguson repeatedly said, is a chance to win the undisputed title.
“I have to fight for the title shot. That’s where I’m going. The winner of this next fight is going to come up.”
Ferguson has been named by Nurmagomedov and Poirier as the rightful No. 1 contender for the lightweight belt. And at one point, he stumped to be a standby opponent in case anything happened to the title unifier. But when UFC inquired about being a backup, he said he rejected the offer because “they didn’t make it sound so interesting.”
“First of all, I’m not backup for anybody. It was talked about it, but at the end of the day, I’m not here to be back up. The next fight is going to have to be for the belt.”
Ferguson has waited for a title shot since winning the interim belt in October 2017. Injuries and troubles outside the cage led to him being stripped of the title and losing out on other opportunities. Over the past two years, his relationship with UFC president Dana White hasn’t always been rosy.
The ex-interim champ said noted he hasn’t “been treated the best” and said of attending UFC 242 as a guest fighter, “If you want me there, treat me better.”
Ferguson he has “several outstanding issues” with the promotion, among them not recognizing his status as a UFC champ. But Ferguson said he’ll address the problems “when the time is right” and called himself a “company man.”
Such a distinction could theoretically work against him should the UFC decide to give the next lightweight title shot to someone else, such as Conor McGregor. White has said the former two-division champ could get a rematch with Nurmagomedov sooner than later, though he later clarified he’ll wait to see who wins at UFC 242.
Ferguson scoffed at the idea of being passed up, saying there’s “no way” the promotion would again deny him the opportunity and adding, “the fans wouldn’t have it.”
The Irish star, who was slated to return in July before a hand injury halted a comeback, has also mentioned Ferguson as a potential comeback opponent. The feeling isn’t mutual just yet.
“He’s like one of those ex-girlfriends. I stopped worrying about that. Now he’s mentioning my name? Get the (expletive) out of here."
“If push comes to shove, I see him fighting the loser of this next fight this weekend. If you want to keep up with the rankings, we have to do it the right way. Maybe I’ll give him a shot (if he beats loser of UFC 242).”
Right now, Ferguson is just asking the UFC to “show him the money” and book him against the Sept. 7 fight’s winner.