Khabib Nurmagomedov retired late last year after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
With this announcement, the hopes of Khabib’s super-lucrative and explosive chances to face Conor McGregor once again are gone.
McGregor’s loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 seemed like the final nail in that coffin, but another clash we’ll never see is Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson.
The UFC has attempted this fight five times. Five times!
Injury and ultimately COVID-19 always hampered the showdown and the last time they were ready to meet they were both on 12-game winning streaks.
Things are very different now. Justin Gaethje entered in Khabib’s place last May and dismantled Ferguson, gaining a chance at The Eagle later that same year.
Ferguson attempted to bounce back against Charles Oliveira and went down once again to record his second straight loss.
Speaking in an interview with ACA fighter Magomed Ismailov, Khabib says he never believed Ferguson was a top fighter.
“I swear I never considered him an elite lightweight,” Khabib said of Ferguson. “He was very good but I never counted him because it is impossible to be elite at 37 years old. It’s never been before and even I can’t do this. At 37 in the lightweight division, no way. But heavyweights can. This is my opinion and you cannot change it.
“Second, since 2016, he’s fought Kevin Lee, (Edson) Barboza, (Anthony) Pettis and (Donald) Cerrone. These fighters have 20 casualties during those four years! This means that since 2016 he hasn’t fought good fighters. But now he’s faced some young and top-level fighters, I mean Charles Olvieira and Justin Gaethje. They upgraded it, you saw that. Both fighters just dominated Tony.
Khabib makes some good points here. Ferguson’s age being one of them and having to fight hungry young fighters.
But still, to say that I haven’t fought a good fighter since 2016 is a strong statement!