Tony Ferguson is approximately one week away from potentially becoming the UFC’s new interim lightweight champion should he get past Kevin Lee in the UFC 216 headliner.
Normally, that would lead to a title unification bout against the division’s undisputed champion, but the the rules are a little bit different when the belt holder is Conor McGregor. The “Notorious” one is coming off a lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 and is less likely than ever to settle for anything but another blockbuster fight.
Whether that’s the Ferguson-Lee winner remains to be seen. Already there have been rumors of a McGregor vs. Nate Diaz trilogy bout, as their first two meetings both generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys for the UFC. On Sunday, Irish Tabloid The Sunday World reported that McGregor-Diaz 3 was nearly official for UFC 219 on Dec. 30. However, UFC President Dana White quickly shot down that notion on Twitter.
Still, that doesn’t mean McGregor vs. Diaz 3 won’t happen, even if Dec. 30 isn’t the date. The matchup is too big not to consider, and the UFC has shown that it isn’t above eschewing the rankings for profit. Not surprisingly, Ferguson isn’t on board with that line of thinking.
“Anything else with as far as him trying to fight Nate, the bulls--t rankings and everything that the UFC stands for goes out the window, man,” Ferguson said during a recent media call to promote UFC 216. “You have rankings for a reason. You have an interim belt for a reason. That’s so you can unify the thing.
“The guy’s [Diaz] a Top 10, not even a top 5. Kevin’s got more heart than Nate. And I got more heart than this whole entire division. If they want to put together that fight that’s great, but the fans would be pissed because they know that Diaz and Conor is gonna make a lot of money, but the real righteous thing to do is to make sure that the belts become unified. That’s what really needs to happen.”
For now, “El Cucuy” will focus on his UFC 216 headlining bout against Lee, who has won nine of his last 10 Octagon appearances. Ferguson, meanwhile, has crafted a nine-fight winning streak dating back to 2013 and claims he has owned the division long before McGregor came aboard.
“This has been my division before McNuggets even stepped in this bitch,” Ferguson said. “Even when I was with Paradigm sports management, he signed up at 145 pounds, and the agreement was that he wasn’t going to come up to 155 pounds. That made it a conflict of interest and I’m pissed. So that bitch needs to fight me or the guy that’s holding the belt.”