Ferguson tells Diaz to stop acting like McGregor's "ex-girlfriend" and fight

IRVINE, Calif. -- Going by his words, it's been a "bulls--- couple months" for UFC lightweight Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson (22-3) was supposed to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for an interim title at UFC 209 last month. The winner would have held some leverage to either book a fight against Conor McGregor or demand he vacate his title.

In the end, none of that happened. Nurmagomedov (24-0) was hospitalized during his weight cut, and the bout was canceled entirely.

Ferguson, 33, hasn't fought since November and is looking to pick a fight this summer. His top choice is an interim title fight against Nate Diaz (19-11), who split back-to-back fights against McGregor in 2016 and has been angling for a trilogy.

"Is that worth $60 in pay-per-view?" Ferguson said of the Diaz fight. "Even one round of two Mexicans going toe-to-toe is going to have every fan around the world buying. That's the kind of fight I want, and that's what he wants, too, unless the money has gone to his head."

It's no secret that Diaz, 32, netted the biggest paydays of his career last year fighting McGregor. His disclosed pay in their second fight last August was $2 million, and that figure doesn't include pay-per-view bonuses.

But with McGregor currently pursuing a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, Ferguson says Diaz's hope for a trilogy bout is completely misplaced.

"He's [all over] McGregor," Ferguson said. "He's like a bad ex-girlfriend.

"You can wait for McNuggets, but we all know if you wait for that fool and he fights Mayweather and never fights again, you might never get a chance at another big-money fight besides [me]. I'm giving you a shot. If you don't want it, perfect. If you like it, sign on the dotted line and let's move on."

Diaz, who fights out of Stockton, California, has pretty much stated a third meeting with McGregor is the only fight that makes sense for him at this point.

Ferguson says it's fine if Diaz feels that way -- he'll find someone else to terrorize -- but he wants everyone to acknowledge it. He's offering Diaz a chance to move up in the rankings and fight for an interim belt.

"You're ranked, what? No. 8 or 9?" Ferguson said of Diaz. "Don't you want to be better than that? S---, dude, the last guy you beat [McGregor] is ranked higher than you. Don't you want an opportunity at the belt? You're skipping a couple names. I'm giving you an opportunity. I'm doing you a favor.

"If you don't want to fight, go hide in a hole, but you've got to admit on Twitter you don't want to fight me because you're f---ing scared, homie," Ferguson said, mimicking a phrase made famous by Diaz's older brother, Nick. "All that s--- goes out the window."

Ferguson admits that in a perfect world, of course, he'd love to fight McGregor himself and show the world how easily he'd dismantle him.

But Ferguson knows McGregor isn't accepting a fight against him any time soon. And interestingly, he says he wouldn't be surprised if his own management is advising McGregor to avoid him. The two share the same agency, Paradigm Sports Management.

"I'm bad for business," Ferguson said. "I'm not good for Conor's business, and he knows it. I think it's funny you've never heard him mention my name one time. That's good advice from his management not to. I'd avoid me, too.

"I've got them in check. Conor, I don't know what his relationship is with his manager, but my guys are working for me. If I ever feel they don't, they know exactly what will happen. I've got a lot of people that want to work with me."