Perhaps it was the frustration over four previous fights against Khabib Nurmagomedov have been cancelled but Tony Ferguson was on another level during the UFC 249 pre-fight press conference on Friday.
Ahead of their April 18 showdown in Brooklyn, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov shared the stage together to answer questions from the media. However, it mostly broke down into a shouting match between the two fighters.
Ferguson has never been shy when taking aim at the undefeated Russian and this latest exchange was no different. The former interim champion, who brought his own UFC belt with him to the press conference, wasted no time needling Nurmagomedov as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
“You like beating on high school wrestlers? That are preparing for state the week before?” Ferguson shouted while referencing a recent training session where Nurmagomedov was grappling with a California state wrestling champion.
“And you like making homeless do pushups in New York and making fun of them. I owe you two to the stomach and you owe me 20 pushups but I will do the pushups with you after you lose.”
For his part, Nurmagomedov acknowledged that the fight with Ferguson was a long time coming even and he can set his personal feelings aside when addressing the matchup.
“I think we have to fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “I think he deserves this. He is a real challenge. I respect his skills. Like fighter, he’s a very good fighter but why people don’t like him? Because he’s a stupid guy. That’s why. Nobody understands him. Honestly he looks stupid. That’s why nobody likes him.
“When you go to the cage you cannot take too serious, like personal with opponents. Because you have to relax, you have to focus, you have to follow your game plan. When I go to the cage, I enjoy with my opponents. I enjoy when I make them tired, when I make them tap. With Tony, it’s going to be more tough than my other opponents but who knows. We’ll see. April 18 is going to be a very big night for lightweight division history. Who wins this fight is going to be greatest lightweight ever and I believe in myself, I believe in my skills.”
Nurmagomedov then said he was “sad” because after so many cancellations, he’s now fighting Ferguson in his late 30s and that people will accuse him of beating an “old” opponent.
Ferguson, 36, didn’t take too kindly to that jab.
“Watch when you get your ass kicked by an old man,” Ferguson said. “I just got old man strength. Champ sh*t only motherf*cker, I can’t understand you, you son of a b*tch.
“I’m going to hit you so hard in your stomach, you’re going to piss f*cking blood.”
Ferguson continued jabbing at Nurmagomedov as the press conference eventually devolved into the fighters yelling at each other from across the dais.
“Everybody raise your hand if you think I’m in his head already?” Ferguson said while getting a rise out of the crowd in Las Vegas.
Nurmagomedov responded by showing his respect for Ferguson as an opponent but he couldn’t extend the same courtesy when it came to his personal feelings.
“Listen people, fighter I respect him. Human being, I no understand this guy,” Nurmagomedov said. “He’s a little bit stupid guy. I don’t understand him. As a fighter I respect him. As a person, I don’t know him. I told you. He’s a little bit stupid.”
Much like his gas tank inside the Octagon, Ferguson never slowed down as he continued badgering Nurmagomedov until UFC president Dana White finally brought the press conference to an end.
“I’m the only motherf*cker that gets under your skin,” Ferguson said before leaving the stage. “You can say what you want. You’re going to have to answer to me, b*tch.”