Once the headliner begins on Saturday night at UFC 223, Tony Ferguson will cease to be the promotion’s interim 155 champ, and “El Cucuy’s” not too happy about it.
Ferguson was supposed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at the event, in a bout that will determine who is the UFC’s undisputed, lightweight champ. But, Ferguson injured his knee in a freak accident last week, and now Max Holloway will face Nurmagomedov.
As it stands right now, Conor McGregor is the UFC lightweight champ, while Ferguson holds the interim belt he won last October, by submitting Kevin Lee. But, while discussing Ferguson’s withdrawal with ESPN, Dana White said that the lightweight would cease to be the interim champ, once Holloway – Nurmagomedov begins (McGregor will also lose the title).
Well, Ferguson was a guest on “The MMA Hour” recently, and when asked about being stripped of the belt, the outspoken fighter said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I haven’t spoken with the UFC yet about what’s next,” Ferguson said. “So when I saw what was in the [ESPN] interview, it shocked me, man, it hurt me even more. It was something I couldn’t control with this injury. This all started snowballing this weekend, man. Of all weekends. The UFC hasn’t said anything to me about my title going away, and I don’t think it will go away.”
“You shouldn’t strip a champion due to a freak injury that happened during a UFC-obligated media event,”
“I mean seriously, there is a precedent for having a fight for a “real” title and keeping an “interim” title intact,” Ferguson added. “They just did that with Robert Whittaker last year.”
Now, even if you’re not a fan of all the interim titles being tossed around these days, you have to agree that Ferguson has a point. Whittaker did face Yoel Romero for the interim belt, when Michael Bisping was scheduled to defend the middleweight title last November against Georges St-Pierre.
So, in theory, you could have Ferguson remain the interim champ. But, the problem is that the UFC wants McGregor to challenge for the belt next. Hopefully Ferguson gets his shot at whoever is holding the 155 title by year’s end.
UFC 223 will take place in Brooklyn, New York.