UFC: Abdelaziz Won’t Stop Gaethje Fighting Khabib If He Beats Ferguson
Ali Abdelaziz has stated that he wouldn’t deny Justin Geathje a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov, if he is victorious in his UFC interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
The outspoken MMA manager has both Khabib and Gaethje on his books. This has led some fans to question whether Abdelaziz’s company Dominance MMA Management would allow the two fighters to square off, given their vested interests in the success of both athletes.
If history is anything to go by though, then fans should be confident that the fight would go ahead, if it comes down to it. The same situation arose previously, when Henry Cejudo faced Marlon Moraes for the vacant UFC bantamweight title at UFC 238 last year.
Cejudo finished the Brazilian via TKO in the third round but Abdelaziz was not present to witness the fight. Instead, the manager opted to stay out of the arena, as not to influence the outcome of the fight.
On the back of that, Abdelaziz has spoken to MMAJunkie about his stance on Geathje’s potential match up with Khabib.
“You saw [what happened when] Henry Cejudo fought Marlon Moraes before. If [Gaethje is] going to be interim champion, he’s going to fight Khabib for the undisputed lightweight championship. These guys work all their lives to become a champion. Who am I to step in the way to making that happen? I know Tony [Ferguson] had a problem before with [having the same management as Conor McGregor], but that’s not how I do business.
“I don’t think it’s fair for a manager or a promoter to stop a guy from having his dreams come true of becoming the undisputed UFC champion. If Justin wins, it’s a fair fight. Him and Khabib will fight.”
Abdelaziz claims that Gaethje jumped at the opportunity to fight Tony Ferguson on April 18th and is still more than ready for a May 9th title bout.
Some industry critics wanted Ferguson to wait on the sidelines until September for Khabib to return. However, Ali respects Tony’s enthusiasm to fight.
“I don’t think it’s right for me to ask that, because especially Tony hasn’t fought in a long time,” Abdelaziz said. “I’m sure he has responsibilities, he has family and he needs money. If it was up to him he could’ve said yes to Justin or said he’s going to wait for Khabib. He chose to take Justin. It’s good for everybody. He gets to fight, Justin gets to fight.”
After finding himself stranded in Russia, the UFC lightweight champion is currently observing Ramadan. This will leave the Dagestani born champion unable to train effectively until after the annual event. UFC president Dana White recently said that Khabib would September or October. However, Abdelaziz see’s his long time client returning to action sooner than previously predicted.
“I think he can be back in August,” Abdelaziz said. “He told me originally the UFC had scheduled a San Francisco fight, I think it was August 1st. He can fight there, it’s no problem. It doesn’t have to be September. But, as you know, [in] September they always have this Abu Dhabi card and I’m sure the UFC wants him to fight there.”
Who will earn the right to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje or Tony Ferguson?