Tony Ferguson isn’t happy with the way his UFC 254 negotiations transpired.
At multiple news conferences throughout recent months, UFC president Dana White said Ferguson (25-4 MMA, 15-2 UFC) vs. Dustin Poirier would serve as the co-main event to the UFC lightweight title unifier between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje on Oct. 24.
However, that fight never came to fruition. In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Ferguson voiced his frustrations with the negotiations and revealed why the Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC) fight didn’t happen.
“I’m going to be real,” Ferguson said. “I don’t know what their plans were before or after, but I was already ready. I was already counting on it. Seriously, I planned around it. I’m not much of a planner, so I was already going ahead of it, but then Dana wanted to speak for me. He wanted to go out there and be like, ‘Tony is going to take this fight.’ Like, bro, we’re not friends. I never said we were friends.
“It’s just business, right? I’m there when you need me, and then obviously when you don’t. Seriously, man. I’m a contractor. I do my thing. I love him and I love UFC and stuff like that, but I’m just a piece of meat out there. Do you know what I mean?”
When negotiations between Poirier and the UFC went awry, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler was inserted into the mix instead.
Ultimately, a fight against Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was not finalized, because Ferguson was unhappy with being offered a UFC newcomer for an unsatisfactory amount of money.
“The UFC kept delaying telling us the (Poirier) fight was confirmed,” Ferguson said. “It was like, the minute they asked, I’m still training for Dustin, for the Chandler thing. Now, they’re bringing in a new dude, who I have no (expletive) clue who he is. I’m not trying to (expletive) on him from a marketing standpoint, but the dude has less than 100,000 (followers) on Twitter. You’re going to try to get him more notoriety by throwing him against me and throw him on the Khabib card. I get that, but don’t pay the (expletive) more than us. He has zero time in the UFC. I don’t know about ‘roids and all that stuff. I don’t get into that (expletive) with everybody.”
Eventually, Ferguson warmed up to the idea of beginning his journey back to a UFC title shot with a fight against Chandler. Still, the money wasn’t up to par, Ferguson said.
“I got to the point where I’m like, ‘You know what? I want to fight. Chandler, you want your welcome? You want to do this (expletive)? Yeah? Let’s put it on paper. UFC, let’s make the money right. Let’s make it interesting.’ I draw pay-per-view buys,” Ferguson said. “They wanted value. I created value. Here I am.”
Despite failed UFC 254 negotiations and sending most of White’s calls to voicemail, Ferguson is willing to accept a fight if it’s offered for the right money. He has his sights set on a number of different opponents, including Gaethje, Nurmagomedov, Poirier, and Chandler.
“Everybody wants me to fight Khabib right?” Ferguson said. “But I’ve got to earn my right back. OK, cool. Who’s it going to be? Dustin? Or is it going to be Chandler? I don’t give a (expletive). I said it was a tournament. Now we’re adding in people. Alright, cool. Here we go again. Today marks the celebration, right? Khabib and (Conor) McGregor. That (expletive) wouldn’t have happened unless they stripped my belt. So, (expletive) you. Pay me instead of this (expletive) clown.
“Like I said, Chandler, I have nothing against you – and Dustin, I have nothing against you. But I ain’t trying to help no one no more. Justin Gaethje, you’re (expletive) welcome you have a belt, son. I guarantee you I’m going to tell you to go get my belt because your ass is going to get (expletive) whipped. I’m coming for it. So both you and (expletive) fathead, this is a message for both of you knuckleheads. It’s my mat and my time.”