Tony Ferguson reveals why he’s not fighting Michael Johnson at UFC 209

LAS VEGAS — When Tony Ferguson arrived in Las Vegas a few days ago, he was prepared to face Khabib Nurmagomedov with the interim lightweight championship on the line.

On Friday the fight fell apart after Nurmagomedov was pulled from the card following a trip to the hospital due to weight cutting problems that resulted in the undefeated Russian being deemed medically unfit to compete.

With Nurmagomedov out, it seemed almost a certainty that Ferguson would be pulled from the card as well but a few late notice replacement opponents were suddenly in discussion with a possible fight less than 24 hours away.

Sources told FOX Sports that Nate Diaz was one possible opponent who was floated but unfortunately he was nowhere near the 155-pound limit to face Ferguson on Saturday.

Top 10 ranked lightweight Michael Johnson then offered to take the fight, which could have been enticing considering he’s the only fighter to hold a win over Ferguson in the UFC.

Ultimately, the fight didn’t come together as Ferguson explained via Twitter on Friday.

“Respect for your willingness to step in,” Ferguson wrote in response to Johnson. “UFC told me it wasn’t for the title and it was for less pay. Willing to fight you for the right price.”

UFC president Dana White joked that he was on “suicide watch” when speaking to TMZ after hearing that Nurmagomedov was out of the fight with Ferguson in what had become one of the most highly anticipated bouts of 2017.

White stated on Friday at a pre-fight press conference to promote the upcoming fight between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping that he hadn’t made any decisions yet regarding the possibility of rebooking the matchup for the future.

For his part, it certainly looks like Ferguson is ready to rebook the matchup once Nurmagomedov is ready to fight again.

Sadly, this is the third time that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to meet but the two elite lightweights still have not stepped into the Octagon together.