Tony Ferguson would 'love' to come to Abu Dhabi - but not as back-up for UFC 242

American is set to be next in line for a lightweight title shot, but buries rumours he would be in the capital as a standby fighter

Tony Ferguson is expected to fight for the UFC lightweight title after Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. AFP
Tony Ferguson is expected to fight for the UFC lightweight title after Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. AFP

Tony Ferguson, the long-time rival of Khabib Nurmagomedov, said he would "love to go" to Abu Dhabi but insisted he will not be a back-up fighter for UFC 242's main event.

Ferguson, the former interim UFC lightweight champion, has been chasing unbeaten champion Nurmagomedov for a fight for some time and is expected to be the next in line for a shot at the title.

Both Nurmagomedov and his opponent on Saturday, current interim champion Dustin Poirier, agree that Ferguson "deserves" to fight the winner of their showdown in Abu Dhabi.

There was speculation that the 35-year-old American could be in the UAE capital this weekend as a back-up fighter – something he was quick to dismiss.

The UFC sometimes has fighters on standby for major fights in case something happens to one of the main event fighters.

Asked by Ariel Helwani on his MMA Show if he would be in Abu Dhabi this weekend as a back-up fighter, Ferguson replied: "I would love to go and it was talked about, but first of all, I'm not back-up for anybody.

"It was talked about at first and I was kind of interested, but at the end of the day I am not here to be back-up. I have a belt; I've won 12 in a row. The next fight I have is for the [lightweight] belt.

"It's got to have the build-up for the fans, it's got to have the hype and it deserves a full camp and lead-up time."

Nurmagomedov, who has a 27-0 professional MMA record, is the favourite to extend his perfect run against Poirier, but Ferguson is backing his fellow American to cause an upset in Abu Dhabi.

“Hopefully Dustin gets a piece of him, throws him on his back, and puts him away, so we can have an American battle, battle royale,” Ferguson said.

“If push comes to shove, me and Khabib, we’ll go out there and we’ll handle [it] in December. So either Dustin or Khabib, title shot next December, Las Vegas. Let’s make it happen, UFC brass.”

Updated: September 4, 2019 01:42 PM

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