Could a Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson fight be booked for an unprecedented sixth time? American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez certainly hopes not.
The pair were set to battle each other for the lightweight title at UFC 249 in April with many expectant that the long-awaited fight would finally come to fruition this time.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic struck which later led to Nurmagomedov being stuck in Russia and being unable to travel. Ferguson would go on to face Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title in May and suffer a a fifth-round TKO defeat to further derail any chances of seeing the Nurmagomedov fight happen.
“The Eagle” is now set to face Gaethje in a title unification fight at UFC 254 on October 24 and has expressed his intentions to face Georges St-Pierre in April afterwards.
So does that end the chances of a potential Ferguson fight?
“Due to the fact that every time we’re supposed to fight Tony, look what happens. This time around, the pandemic,” Mendez told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “Not that Tony created it but I’m just saying — five times, five misses? And I am kind of a little superstitious. So do I want to see a sixth fight? Not really.
“But hey, if Tony gets a win and the UFC puts Tony against Khabib next if we’re successful with Justin, yeah. I mean you got to fight him. If the UFC says that’s who your next opponent is, then you have to fight him. And Tony would have deserved that. That’s how I feel about that.”
Many in the mixed martial arts world are still holding out hope that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson collide at least once.
And while Mendez has nothing personal against Ferguson, he does believe “El Cucuy” was at fault for not making it happen this year.
“Nothing against Tony. I think personally Tony screwed up in his last fight by overtraining, by cutting the weight,” Mendez added. “He shouldn’t have done that. In this game, it’s a matter of inches.
“You cannot go out there and do that to prove a point. … Which is a true warrior [move], but from the winning and losing perspective, that may not have been the wisest move.”