There seemed to be one question on everyone’s mind entering the UFC’s 25th Anniversary Series Press Conference at TD Garden on Friday: what exactly are interim champion, Tony Ferguson, and challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov fighting for at UFC 223?
“The winner of this fight will be the champ,” said UFC President Dana White. “It’s an undisputed title fight.”
There was no mention of what this means for current lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Instead Ferguson directed the attention to the belt sitting beside him.
“This is the real belt,” Ferguson said. “Go back and watch my fights and you’ll see why I’m the champ.”
Things get heated between the #UFC223 main event!
"Dana, tell them what time it is." @TeamKhabib
The Boston crowd booed and instead favored Nurmagomedov, who enters the April 7 at 25-0. Known for his grappling and dominant sambo style, White felt it important to remind fans of exactly how dominant Nurmagomedov has been of late: in his last three fights Nurmagomedov has outstruck opponents 258-50.
Most recently was the destruction of Edson Barboza, a unanimous decision win for Nurmagomedov that included two 30-25 scores and a 30-24. Even Ferguson was impressed.
“His fight was really good. The right Khabib showed up, too bad he didn’t show up for UFC 209,” Ferguson said, referring to their originally scheduled bout at UFC 209.
The compliments ended there. Ferguson pointed out Nurmagomedov weighed in at 155.5 at UFC 219 – a half pound over the weight limit for their championship fight at UFC 223. He also said Nurmagomedov is fat, slow and has no rhyhm.
Nurmagomedov’s last 25 opponents may disagree. The truth will come out on April 7 in Brooklyn.