Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled no punches when giving his assessment of former rival Tony Ferguson when discussing him in his autobiography, ‘KHABIBTIME’, which was actually released back in 2019, but was only recently brought to light via some online excerpts.
The UFC had attempted to pair-up Khabib and Ferguson no less than five times over the years as both of their winning records continued to rack up into double-digits, but the jinxed bout never came to pass.
Nevertheless, it’s now clearer than ever that Khabib harbored an intense dislike for ‘El Cucuy’.
“Sometimes I felt certain gratitude towards the guy,” Khabib says in KHABIBTIME. “I have already written that my desire to return after three of severe injuries and having almost decided to end my career was ignited because of my overwhelming impulse to meet El Cucuy and punch him on the head so that he would look at life differently.
That was the way it was. The possibility of finally silencing this poorly brought up dude became one of the main reasons for my returning to the cage.
I have a set of emotions towards this guy like those that would flood the streets of Makhachkala at the age of sixteen or twenty, when I saw in front of me an impudent lout who was boasting how strong he was.
I never had missed the opportunity to thrash such a smartass and at the same time to check which of his claims about his abilities was true. So I looked at Ferguson and continue to do so with eyes full of sarcasm and anger.
I assure you that my attitude promised nothing good for Tony.”
“Work on the preparation for the fight was as usual, occasionally interrupted by laughter and irony about Tony’s latest attack on me in the media. And in fact, it was funny to watch an opponent trying to unsteady you mentally, without even realizing that the methods he used were like a little tickle. Everything went as per usual.
For some reason, he was abusive from the very beginning of our interaction, not being embarrassed at all with the expressions he used. I quickly realized that it was a way of asserting himself. What for? I could not understand it. Yes, of course, what is called trash talk is an aspect of the to and fro at the UFC, but Ferguson immediately began to transgress all reasonable boundaries. I myself like to tweet something against a future opponent of ‘experts’ on Twitter or Instagram posts, but what El Cucuy does can not be supported in any way. It is pure dirt. I gradually formed a particular contempt for Ferguson as a person. To be precise — as a person. I think it is wrong to treat him badly from a sporting point of view; he is a fine fighter, a winner, a champion in my division for a period and the possessor of one of the longest winning streaks in the UFC. He is definitely a great athlete. However, a completely mediocre upbringing and the behaviour it has generated makes him sometimes merely a nonentity.”
Of course a lot has changed since those words were written, with Khabib now having retired with a perfect 29-0 record, while just this past weekend Tony Ferguson slumped to his third loss in a row – a far cry from the 12-fight winning streak he’d compiled while attempting to lock down a fight with ‘The Eagle’.
As such there’s now talk that it may be time for Ferguson to hang up his gloves too – with Dana White being amongst those who have now seen enough to come to the conclusion that the 37-year-old is not the same fighter he was a few years ago.
“It could be that, it could be just time gets us all,” White said. “So it’s one of those things, I don’t know which one, or both. But yeah, unfortunately it’s definitely hit Tony.”