It seems that a very entertaining fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov simply isn't meant to be.
After "The Eagle" was forced out of their initial scrap last year due to injury, Ferguson had to do the same last week, as his own health issues booted him from their fight that was set to go down this Saturday (April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 in Tampa, Florida.
"The fight could have been saved and moved to May 29 in Vegas. Khabib was given that option, and the UFC even asked him about it. So for me, on my end, I was like look, man -- you've pulled out of this fight a couple of times already. I didn't know what injuries he had or how serious it was, I never asked those questions. I was just like, look, I'm going to try and move on. I'm going to try and figure this out while you heal. So I thought that maybe for instance that he might be like, cool, 'I'm not going to take an easy fight. I know we've both been training.' You saw on his Twitter where he said, 'now I know how you feel,' and I'm sure he does. But on May 29 he would have showed up. He would have got his show money, and I think I would have been more than prepared for it."
The fact that "The Eagle" didn't want to wait a month to settle their business confirms to Tony that the talented 155-pounder simply doesn't want to see him inside the Octagon.
"The dude doesn't want to talk about the future, yet he was talking about fighting RDA at UFC 200. The guy goes back and forth. He doesn't want to fight me. And his camp doesn't want to fight me. I'm a very intense person, but I think it's a little ridiculous. If he comes out of this fight unscathed, and [May 29] is before his holiday, I'm down for it man. I haven't been eating shitty, I've been eating good. I've been focusing on everything, I've been watching film. It's kind of a bummer [Nurmagomedov] didn't take the fight, but I know he doesn't want to think beyond [Horcher]. But I'm on his mind. And I know he had a big sigh of relief after he heard that I wasn't going to be able to take the fight."
Nurmagomedov is now scheduled to take on UFC newcomer Darrell Horcher this Saturday in Tampa.
To hear "The Eagle" tell it, all he wanted to do was to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible after sitting nearly two years on the sidelines, which is why he asked to stay on the UFC on FOX 19 card.
And he wasn't looking for an easy fight, either, as he asked UFC officials to give him the cream of the crop; Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone included. The fact that he was given a newcomer instead, he says, wasn't his decision.
As for an eventual showdown between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, that remains to be seen. But if "The Eagle" escapes unscathed in Tampa, don't be surprised if UFC matchmakers book them to scrap as soon as possible.