Former interim UFC lightweight champion, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson recently questioned the calibre of opponent longtime rival, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Numagomedov faced before his eventual transition to the UFC, nothing that many of Khabib’s earlier matchups were only two-round sanctioned bouts rather than the usual three-round professional matches.
Slated to match with the Dagestani on five-separate occasions, a contest between Khabib and Ferguson failed to ever hit our screens in one of the most anticipated pairings in the sport’s history. And given the recent slide of Ferguson who has lost twice in 2020, and Khabib’s plans for retirement, it seems we’ll never see the two grapplers share the Octagon.
Announcing his retirement from professional mixed martial arts back in October at UFC 254 following a successful title unification outing against then-interim titleholder, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje, Khabib appears to have called time on a gleaming career with twenty-nine professional victories.
For Oxnard veteran, Ferguson, the 36-year-old recently questioned the legitimacy of Khabib’s earlier career opponents, as well as pointing out the number of rounds sanctioned for some of the Dagestan native’s bouts shouldn’t quantify as professional matches.
“Ahhh Khabieber’s (Khabib Nurmagomedov) record… facts: more than half of fatheads professional fights were only two round sanctioned bouts. All before UFC. To be professional fights in most leagues, there must be three sanctioned rounds to be considered professional. Fights (sic) leagues such [as] UFC & farm league. The three by two round TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) fights should count on my record if that’s the case. Give me three more knockouts & victories on my record.“
Offering his thought’s on Khabib’s record, former UFC middleweight champion turned promotional colour-commentator, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping explained how it’s largely common practice for fights between newly turned professionals to feature two similar level opponents.
“Just look up the record — the professional boxing record of — I dunno, I dunno what it’s like, Floyd Mayweather,” Bisping said on his podcast Believe You Me with standup comedian, Luis J. Gomez. “Let’s go with that, okay. He’s considered the best ever, like Khabib (Nurmagomedov’s) considered the best ever, so compare his. ‘Cause I guarantee, it’s like you, Luis (J. Gomez) when you started doing comedy, you were doing it in some sh*thole, or some basement, or some kitchen, or maybe some cafe like on New Year’s Eve or whatever it was you were.“
“The point I’m making is, you build, you build to that (level),” Bisping said. “When I started in the UFC — or sorry, professional MMA, the guy I fought wasn’t very good. You build your way up to it and you fight the best guys when you get up to that level. You shouldn’t be fighting good guys at that time.
Bisping then pointed to that fact that since Khabib made the eventual transition to the Octagon, he’s managed to knock back each and every one of his opposition, before claiming Ferguson’s argument lacks logic.
“And since he’s got to the UFC, and continued to be undefeated and — I mean, I love Tony (Ferguson) but there’s no logic in the argument there,” Bisping said. “Ok, great he didn’t fight the best people prior to the UFC, ok fair enough have whatever feelings you want on that. When he got to the UFC, he remained undefeated, he fought excellent competition. He beat (Dustin) Poirier, (Conor) McGregor, (Justin) Gaethje — there’s so many people I can’t think off the top of my head, and he beat them all. So what he did before the UFC shouldn’t even matter.