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Tony Ferguson doesn’t hate Khabib Nurmagomedov, but ‘he took food off my kid’s table’

Tony Ferguson will look to add to his already elite lightweight track record at UFC 223 on April 7 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, when he puts his interim UFC lightweight title on the line opposite undefeated Russian smasher Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Seeing as this is the fourth time that the promotion has tried to lock Ferguson and “Eagle” inside of the cage with one another, the bad blood between the two has grown exponentially. In fact, it nearly boiled over earlier this week during a wild media call for UFC 223.

Still, despite their ongoing trash talk and storied history, Ferguson is remaining professional in his approach to the biggest fight of his career. He may do whatever it takes to promote his next Octagon appearance, but at the end of the day “El Cucuy” is willing to shake hands and let bygones be bygones.

“I don’t think you have to hate somebody in order to fight them,” said Ferguson during a recent interview with TMZ Sports (shown above). “I think that’s what everyone thinks, but it really hasn’t been tested in battle.”

“I”m a competitor. I’m an athlete first, actually before I’m a fighter,” he continued. “When I look at the picture he’s an athlete, too, he’s a father, he has a kid, and I have a kid as well. So hopefully at the end of the day we can do a culture exchange when I give him a sombrero or a baseball cap and he can give me that fuzzy hat.”

Cultural gifting aside, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have unfinished business to settle next weekend in Brooklyn, especially considering “Eagle” had to withdraw from their last scheduled bout at UFC 209 due to weight-cutting issues. The two lightweights may be able to bury the hatchet after their main event clash at UFC 223, but until that times comes, “El Cucuy” is focused and trying to get back what he think he deserves from UFC 209’s fallout.

“He’s been tested,” explained Ferguson. “His weight has been tested and his mental toughness. He didn’t have it the last fight at UFC 209. He took food off my kid’s table. You don’t do that. Do you let somebody take food of your kid’s table? Absolutely not.”

Whoever escapes the Octagon victorious on April 7 should be considered the best lightweight fighter on the planet. Current 155-pound champion Conor McGregor may have something to say about that, but until “Notorious” returns from his lengthy layoff, the lightweight landscape will revolve around Ferguson and Khabib.

For complete UFC 223 fight card news click here.

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