Khabib Nurmagomedov has staked his claim for an interim title shot against the current holder of the belt, Tony Ferguson at UFC 219 on December 30th in Las Vegas.
Despite holding a perfect 24-0 record, including an eight fight winning streak in the UFC, Nurmagomedov still hasn’t fought for a belt yet in the Octagon, and he’s eager to make it happen before the end of the year.
“We have almost 12 weeks, 11 weeks before UFC 219,” Nurmagomedov told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “And now is the beginning a very interesting moment in my life. I hope UFC gives me a championship fight. End of the year, I want to take everything back. Attention, belts; I want to take everything. End of the year, I want to fix everything. And we’ll see what happens.”
A big spanner in the works there is that Dana White has made it clear he believes current lightweight champion Conor McGregor should be fighting Ferguson next to unify the belts, but Nurmagomedov sees it differently.
“first of all, I think UFC has to make the fight, Conor versus Nate Diaz 3, and after, me and Tony.
“Because, my opinion, I think Tony Ferguson is the real champion. That’s why. I don’t think, if I fight versus Tony Ferguson, this is an interim belt. Officially, yes. But people want to see me versus Tony Ferguson. I think this is a much better fight, for everything. If I beat Tony Ferguson and take the interim championship belt — Conor’s the official champion, but he’s not the people’s champion.”
With all that being said, after various issues in his own career in recent times, including weight problems and multiple injuries, Nurmagomedov understands that not everyone is going to be behind his vision for how the next series of fights at the top of the lightweight division should unfold.
“Trying to come back, training every day — every day, training full-time — this is not easy. I agree with fans, I have to fight. I have to make weight. I have to stay professional. I agree with this.
“But when I fight, I all the time smash my opponents. All the time, when I fight. Now I have one goal, and by the end of the year, one dream fight: This is fight versus Tony Ferguson. This is what I want.”