UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov believes rival Tony Ferguson is ‘finished’ following his defeat to Justin Gaethje.
The unbeaten Russian – who has seen a fight to face the 36-year-old fall through five times – has stated it is unlikely their paths will cross again.
Both men were set to pit their wits against each other at UFC 249 on April 18, only for Khabib to be stranded in Dagestan due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, Ferguson took on Gaethje, but his 12-fight winning streak came to an end in dramatic fashion as he was stopped in the fifth round.
Gaethje’s victory has earned him a shot at the lightweight championship, with the American to face Khabib at UFC 254 on October 24.
Speaking ahead of the contest, Khabib told ESPN: “Nobody can be the same for a long time — one day, somebody is going to beat you, something is going to happen.
“God doesn’t give nobody the power, reaction, mental, one level, always.
“One day you’re going to go down and his day come. It was May. Tony Ferguson is finished now.
“He’s going to come back, and someone is going to beat him again, I believe.
“Because when you take damage like this, you’re never going to be the same. Never. Even if you’re Tony Ferguson.”
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Ferguson received plenty of criticism for deciding to make weight for the cancelled fight against Khabib, only to cut his weight again to face Gaethje three weeks later.
Commenting on his decision, Khabib added: “Stupid. Stupid, stupid. Remember, I told you I like Tony Ferguson but he’s a stupid guy.
“He keeps talking about me. Why you keep talking about me? Someone smash your face, Justin Gaethje smash you everywhere.
“If you wanna promote yourself, OK, I agree with you.
“But if you really want to keep talking about me and you think it’s going to be something special and put you in good position, this shows your mind, your weakness.
“What can we do? Maybe if he comes back, but I don’t think this is possible.”