Ferguson mocks Khabib, McGregor for missing UFC 249

UFC 249 opponent Justin Gaethje is Tony Ferguson's sole focus, he says, with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor absent in Jacksonville.

UFC star Tony Ferguson: "We're here crushing quarantine."   -  Getty Images

Tony Ferguson questioned the absence of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor from UFC 249 as he prepared to face Justin Gaethje, the Russian's replacement.

Ferguson had been set to face Khabib last month, before the latter pulled out due to flight restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic and the event was later postponed. A behind-closed-doors fight was rescheduled for May 9, yet both lightweight champion Khabib and rival McGregor will be absent in Jacksonville.

Ferguson is set to instead face Gaethje for the interim title, a status the 36-year-old previously held before losing it due to injury. That decision still rankles - as now does the failure of two of the sport's biggest names to appear despite the ongoing global crisis.

Ferguson, who removed his protective mask early in his latest news conference, had on Tuesday claimed the pair "fell off the face of the f*****g earth" and were "a bunch of f*****g b*****s".

'Crushing quarantine'

"My hardcore understanding is that I do have the belt," he added at the UFC's virtual media day on Thursday. "I shouldn't have been stripped.

"You've got good old meathead, f*****g fathead Khabib. He didn't wanna fight. He ran away like a dog with his tail between his legs. It's the same thing with Conor.

"'I'm gonna be next, I'm gonna be next' is what everybody said. But where the f*** are they at? Obviously they're back home trying to quarantine and obviously we're here crushing quarantine."

Ferguson was asked again about Khabib but preferred to focus on Gaethje, replying: "I don't give a s***.

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"To me, that fight (with Khabib) doesn't even exist. The fight that is going to happen is UFC 249."

'Fighting for my life'

Gaethje only signed to UFC in 2017 when he vacated his World Series of Fighting lightweight title. He said: "This is everything. I'm fighting for my life, for everything I've worked for in my life. This is a culmination of events that has led me to here. It's one day at a time, one fight at a time. I never thought I would be here. But the fact that I'm here? I'm a competitor, I'm a show-off, I know how many people are going to be watching.

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"I'm going to go out there and perform - that's what I do. Even if I didn't want to, it's in me. I was made for this."