Tony Ferguson was unfortunately forced out of his scheduled Lightweight title defense against Khabib Nurmagomedov — which was set to headline UFC 223 this weekend (Sat., April 7, 2018) in Brooklyn, N.Y. — after a freak injury on the FOX set resulted in a torn LCL in his knee.
While the news broke yesterday (Sun., April 1, 2018), “El Cucuy” says the injury actually happened last Thursday (March 28), but didn’t officially withdraw from the bout until a few days later after having the proper tests administered. During a recent guest spot on “The MMA Hour,” “El Cucuy” detailed the accident that lead to his fight against Nurmagomedov getting canceled for the fourth time.
“I tweeted this happened on Friday, but it actually happened on Thursday when I was doing my media obligations for UFC. I was walking to say [hello] to a FOX crew member and I walked and I slipped on one of those big black thick cords on the production studio. It was dark, hard to see and I wasn’t wearing my shades, I actually had my prescription sunglasses on. That was when I was about to do my interview on ‘The Herd’ with Kristin,” Ferguson explained.
Ferguson revealed that he felt a pop right away, but it wasn’t until he worked out later that day and the following pain the next morning until he knew it was something worse than expected. Furthermore, Ferguson revealed he tried to train Friday and Saturday, but was unable to after his knee kept locking up and giving out on him.
“I didn’t know the severity of it, but UFC PR was with me and they saw it happen. Throughout the whole entire day they asked me if I was okay. It happened so fast, it was one week out from fight night, Easter weekend. You guys know me, I don’t like to pull out, it sucks to pull out. But, it is part of the fight game. Khabib has pulled out of the fight twice now, I pulled out of it twice. I will heal up in no time and I will be ready to defend my belt against whoever.”
So just how severe is the injury? Ferguson says doctors told him his LCL is completely ruptured.
“I’m not a doctor, but when I saw the MRI on this, it looked like a flag, my ligament, it was hanging on the side of the bone. I wanted them to shoot me with a numbing shot, or whatever, but they said it would blow up my whole entire knee. I have a ruptured LCL ligament, is what they told me.
“According to the doctor, it’s off the fibula bone,” he continued. “Athletes with LCL sprains can usually heal in a few weeks if they stay off it. I got one doc who says I need surgery, I got one who says I have other options so they are going to send me to a specialist to see what I need to do. So I am fighting to be back in less than a year.”
As for the latest setback in his ongoing saga with Nurmagomedov, Ferguson says it’s a fight that still needs to happen despite the rocky history.
“I don’t think there is a black cloud or a curse or anything like that, even though it’s hard to deny four canceled matches with myself and Khabib. It definitely sucks and everyone wants this fight. Seriously, shit happens,” he added. “I have an amazing family and team and I am blessed. That is what really matters to me in life. We are 2-2 in pulling out of this fight, the pull out game is strong. All jokes aside, sometimes coincidences just causes all of this. I don’t think the fight is cursed but we need to prove that.”
The pullout game isn’t stronger than Conor McGregor’s “dick,” apparently.
As far as booking the bout for a fifth time, that simply isn’t in the cards, as UFC President Dana White has gone on record saying he will never again try to book the match up again. As far as Ferguson’s status as UFC interim Lightweight champion, White also stated that Ferguson will no longer be a champion once the dust settles Saturday night, as the winner of Holloway vs. Khabib will be the undisputed champion.
It’s a notion that doesn’t sit too well with “El Cucuy.”
“My team and I haven't spoken to UFC about what’s next, but when I saw that in an interview it shocked me and it hurt me even more for something I couldn’t control with this injury. This all started snowballing this weekend. UFC hasn’t told me about my title going away and I don’t think it will go away. They shouldn't strip a champion due to a freak injury that happened during a UFC media obligated event. There is a precedent of having a fight for the real title, and keeping an interim title intact. They just did that with Robert Whittaker last year. I just hope they do the right thing.”
At the end of the day, Ferguson says he will be an interested observer come fight night, and hopes Khabib gets a win over late replacement to setup a fight between them later this year to settle it once and for all.
After all, the bout was going to fetch Ferguson “millions of dollars,” so you can’t blame him for wanting a fifth opportunity.