Tony Ferguson Says He’s Still ‘True’ UFC Lightweight Champion

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Photo: Joshua Dahl for USA TODAY Sports

Last October, Tony Ferguson scored a submission victory over Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC 216 from Las Vegas, Nevada to become the promotion’s interim lightweight champion.

He was then scheduled to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov last month at UFC 223 for what UFC President Dana White called the undisputed championship, but he was forced to withdraw from the bout just days prior after suffering a gruesome knee injury.

Following Ferguson’s injury, Nurmagomedov took on late replacement opponent Al Iaquinta, winning the fight via unanimous decision to become the 155-pound titleholder.

According to Ferguson, however, he hasn’t been told anything by the UFC and still considers himself to be the ‘true’ champion:

“The UFC has indicated my title is gone and Khabib is the only champion at 155 pounds, but the UFC hasn’t mentioned anything official to my management,” Ferguson told ESPN. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m still the true 155-pound champion. I never lost my belt.

“That’s a big middle finger to ‘T-Ferg’ right there — that’s a kick to the groin if they do that. At the end of the day, does the UFC really like its fighters? I’m one of their toughest fighters. Don’t kick me when I’m down. I missed out on pay-per-view points, my purse, a big payday; a lot of things behind the scenes. They have to either give me my title back or make sure I’m fighting under that same contract. I’ve earned that.”

Moving forward, the future of the lightweight division is a bit unclear. Nurmagomedov likely won’t compete again until the fall due to Ramadan. When he returns, Ferguson would be a logical opponent if he’s healthy, but ex-champion Conor McGregor is likely also in line, although he’s currently dealing with legal issues.

Should Ferguson receive a title shot upon his return?