Any time, any where, any weight is the calling card for most fighters, as was Max Holloway’s response when asked why he accepted a short notice fight with No. 1 UFC lightweight contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 this Saturday.
But if the shoe was on the other foot, Nurmagomedov would not have accepted a fight against Holloway on six days notice. Not because he fears not making weight, but because it doesn’t make sense to do something that outlandish.
“I tell (UFC), how you guys give me this guy? Because one month ago, this guy pull out because he injure something. And now six days before fight, I don’t understand,” Nurmagomedov said this morning on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “Like to be honest, if someone asked me, if Dana (White) asked me to fight after one month, I would never take this because I care about my legacy. I don’t want to fight for the money. I don’t need fight for the money.”
Former UFC interim-lightweight Tony Ferguson was stripped of his interim title over the past 24 hours after he had to pull out of Saturday’s main event against Nurmagomedov, citing a knee injury he suffered last week outside of training.
Nurmagomedov said this morning that when he heard about Ferguson’s injury, he didn’t believe it at first. But soon, he began to think of who his next opponent will be as long as it was for the 155-pound belt.
The Dagestan native thought lightweight contenders such as Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chieza, Ray Felder, Al Iaquinta and Austin Pettis would be some of the names thrown into the hat since each of those fighters were preparing to fight at UFC 223.
But he never expected to share the Octagon with the UFC’s featherweight champion who has not only never fought at lightweight, but who is recovering from an ankle injury that held him out of UFC 222 just last month.
Nurmagomedov suspects that Holloway took this fight for the money, not for the belt.
“I think UFC tell him like hey, we’re gonna give you good money so you have to come back. And he said of course,” he said. “I respect him - aloha Max! But he champion for reason at 145. He fight (Jose) Aldo twice, he fight Pettis, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas; all these guys, nobody wrestling. I watch all his 12 win streak, no ones’ like me. No one is wrestling with him - Now, he has different opponent: young, hungry, bigger than him, more strong than him, more good wrestling pressure, undefeated, I think it’s going to be a long night for him.”
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