UFC 242: Tony Ferguson not willing to play backup, ready and waiting for Khabib v Poirier winner

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Tony Ferguson is universally regarded as next in line for a UFC lightweight title shot

UFC Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson says he is excited to see current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov take on Dustin Poirier and admits he would have loved to be the man taking centre stage in Abu Dhabi.

The 35-year-old Californian was speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show and said he was ready and waiting for the winner of the UFC 242 headliner.

El Cucuy, 25-3, has won his last 12 fights and has been acknowledged by both Khabib and Poirier as the next man in line for a shot at the title – a prospect he understandably relishes.

“I am excited to be in the spotlight, especially with Khabib and Poirier fighting this week,” he said. “There is a lot going on and I am really happy to be right in the middle of it.”

Ferguson has demolished his recent competition with his innovative brand of offence both on the feet and the mat, and will be a keen spectator come Saturday night, but refuses to be drawn on who he think will get the victory – despite saying he would love an all-American clash for the title with Poirier.

“I am thinking about the fight and how it’s going to go,” said the man with 11 stoppage wins on his UFC record. “I just hope that Dustin put in the work. I can guarantee both these fighters are nervous, it’s a in a great arena, I would have loved to fight for that title there. Hopefully there is going to be fireworks and hopefully they did enough work and can let the nerves out.”

It was suggested that Ferguson could have been put on standby to compete in Abu Dhabi should either fighter not be able to compete – a prospect was tempting, but ultimately one he dismissed.

“I would love to go, it was talked about,” he explained. “First of all though, I am not back up for anybody, I have got 12 fights (wins) in a row.

“I was kind of talked about but at the end of the day I’m not here to be backup. The next fight I have is for the belt and it’s going to have to have a lot of build-up, especially for the fans. It’s got to have the hype and deserves a full camp and lead-up time.

“We are going to have to see how this weekend goes.”

One name never too far away from the lightweight division is that of Conor McGregor. Ferguson has a history of trying to get the Irishman in the Octagon – but that interest has waned in light of last year’s defeat to Khabib.

There will always be talk of The Notorious in the title picture, especially if Khabib wins in Abu Dhabi and opens up the possibility of a high profile rematch.

Ferguson is determined to not lose his place in line.

“No way the fans would have that – they would put up too much of a fight,” he told Helwani. “I don’t know if he wants to fight anymore, he is not my concern. I stopped worrying about him, at first he was in line trying to go for the title and then once he became irrelevant I stopped caring about the dude.”

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