UFC is looking to progress the lightweight division forward without Khabib Nurmagomedov while he is suspended, but the current champion isn't happy that one fighter turned down a chance to potentially face him in the future.
Khabib is currently suspended for his involvement in the brawl that broke out after his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last October. He won't be fighting until October later this year when the suspensions of his teammates involved that night are over too.
While the UFC Lightweight Champion is on the sidelines, an interim lightweight title fight will take place between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier at UFC 236. The winner will likely get a future fight vs the Russian.
Dana White recently revealed to ESPN that Tony Ferguson was offered the chance to fight for the interim title, but he turned down the opportunity. El Cucuy has since stated why he turned down the fight.
He said on an Instagram post: “We took some unneeded damage this past year. Recovery from the knee surgery & battling through adversity really put a damper on the overall mood these last few months.
"We’re working harder to be better than yesterday crew- I make lots of mistakes, nobody’s perfect. Have a great weekend, be safe & stay warm we got work to do.”
This response from Ferguson hasn't gone down well with many members of the public, and it hasn't gone down well with the current UFC Lightweight Champion either.
Khabib issued his own Instagram post in response to El Cucuy's explanation.
He said: “I want to remind you guys, that before I become champion, I was close to the title fight 3 times and all 3 times I missed my opportunity.
"First was in July 2016 when I was offered to fight in Ramadan month and I turned it down, second was UFC 205 NYC when I was offered a title fight, bout agreement signed, but my title was given away, you know the story.
"Third time was UFC 209 where I was hospitalized and almost died. But after every single fail I were said: you missed your chance, earn your shot with one more victory.
"Tony you had your chance and you missed it, and that’s your fault only. You know that I’m disqualified and can’t fight, but it’s not fair to strip me off the title, I fought 3 times in 9 months. I won and defended my belt.
"As a fighter you deserve a title fight, you are great fighter and opponent, but now you have to fight or wait for my DQ to be over and fight(but UFC doesn’t want it). I don’t understand your offenses, if you fell down, you got to get up, not complain.”
Ferguson already won the interim Lightweight title in October 2017 with a submission over Kevin Lee. He was later stripped of the title after he injured his knee just mere days before he was set to fight Khabib for the undisputed title last April at UFC 223.
The Eagle would go on to beat Al Iaquinta to claim the title. He defended it six months later with a submission win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
Ferguson returned from reconstructive knee surgery on that very night to defeat Anthony Pettis via TKO, and he's been calling for a title shot ever since.