This is how you sell a fight.
A full six weeks before their April 18 UFC 249 headliner, Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov showed up in Las Vegas to promote the bout. Joined by UFC boss Dana White, the lightweight fighters took the stage for a news conference that coincided with the UFC 248 weigh-ins at T-Mobile Arena.
After trading verbal barbs for 30 minutes or so, the pair squared off for a staredown.
Nurmagomedov, the undefeated lightweight champion, carried his belt to the stage. Ferguson also brought his.
Why do they both have belts?
Ferguson owns the interim lightweight belt from the title that UFC stripped when a knee injury sidelined him from his scheduled UFC 223 bout against Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov went on to defeat Ferguson’s replacement, Al Iaquinta, to claim the lightweight championship.
Nurmagomedov doesn’t appear to have much respect for Ferguson’s belt.
Ferguson laid it at Nurmagomedov’s feet and demanded that Nurmagomedov do the same with his. Instead, Nurmagomedov kicked Ferguson’s belt off the stage while holding on to his own.
‘I’m the f---ing champ’
Ferguson has claimed in the past that he’s still the rightful owner of the interim title despite the fact that Nurmagomedov owns the actual lightweight championship belt.
“I’m the f---ing champ,” Ferguson said before his comeback fight at UFC 229 in 2018 that saw him defeat Anthony Pettis. “See this gold right here. I didn’t lose my belt. They took it from me.”
That was the same event that Nurmagomedov defeated Conor McGregor in their infamous championship fight that ended with a post-fight brawl.
Will this fight finally happen?
UFC 223 wasn’t the first scheduled fight between the two that was canceled. Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a weight-cutting mishap prior to a UFC 209 matchup with Ferguson with the interim title on the line. Two other times, injury or illness canceled this highly anticipated matchup.
Barring any unforeseen injury or illness this time around, the pair will finally settle things in the Octagon at UFC 249.
They’re doing a fine job of promoting it.
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