Khabib Nurmagomedov Never Considered Tony Ferguson An ‘Elite Lightweight’

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Khabib Nurmagomedov has followed Justin Gaethje’s lead in believing Tony Ferguson was never an elite lightweight.

Gaethje made headlines recently when he claimed he never considered Ferguson an elite lightweight which later led to a back-and-forth between the pair.

However, Nurmagomedov feels the same, despite previously claiming Ferguson was a fight he needed for his legacy.

“Maybe that would be Tony Ferguson, but I swear that I never considered him as an elite lightweight,” Nurmagomedov said when asked which fight would erase all doubts about his greatness in a recent chat with Russian heavyweight Magomed Ismailov. “He was very good, but I never counted him so, because it’s impossible to be an elite at 37 years. It’s never been before and even Khabib cannot do this. At 37 years in the lightweight division, no way, but heavyweights can. It’s my opinion and you cannot change it.

“Secondly, since 2016 he fought Kevin Lee, [Edson] Barboza, [Anthony] Pettis, and [Donald] Cerrone and these four fighters have 20 losses for these four years. It means that since 2016 he didn’t fight good fighters. But now, he faced young and top fighters, I mean Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. They outclassed him, you saw this. Both fighters just dominated Tony. I was just dreaming about this fight. But it wasn’t destined, we had injuries in a row.”

The Dream Fight Which Never Happened

To Nurmagomedov’s credit, he is only stating that Ferguson at 37 years of age cannot be considered elite in his eyes and he might have a point given the mileage “El Cucuy” has accumulated.

However, there’s no question that the Ferguson of old, especially from 2015 to 2017, was certainly elite and that is why a matchup between the pair was so highly-anticipated for a number of years, with some observers still pining to watch it today.

With Nurmagomedov now retired and Ferguson on a two-fight losing streak, all that can be said is it’s a shame fans never got to witness it.

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Date: February 19, 2021

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