As anticipated by pundits and fans, Ferguson continued to take the weigh-in seriously in the eight days after his challenge to Nurmagomedov’s title fell foul of an inevitable cancellation, and stepped onto the scales to showcase his physique on Friday afternoon.

The lightweight champion and his opponent would have been required to come in at a maximum of 155lb had their meeting gone ahead on Saturday, and Ferguson completed his series of progress posts on social media by showing himself registering the exact limit for the fight.

“You will be beaten to the absolute nucleus pulposus when I get you, kid,” laughed a predictably unimpressed McGregor on Twitter, having again offered congratulations to Ferguson for an “excellent victory” in an insinuation that Nurmagomedov could have taken the fight.

McGregor, who was touted as a replacement for Nurmagomedov by fans feeling wildly hopeful in the build-up to the cancellation, accompanied his words with a screenshot from Ferguson’s video showing the challenger looking gaunt, previously adding: “Let’s have the other guy on the scale, please.”

Looking more muscular in his Instagram clip, Ferguson looked down to the scales and observed “there it is” before raising his fists to the camera in satisfaction, ending what he called a “practice weight cut” and thanking his supporters.

With no contest to look forward to in the foreseeable future, he has kept those fans intrigued by sharing frequent updates on his training and nutrition, offering an insight into the intensity and discipline required to make weight and prepare for an elite encounter.

Ferguson has continued to share the hashtag of UFC 249, helping to keep alive the fanciful idea that the event could have gone ahead during a global pandemic that made the chances of any fight taking place remote, let alone one with a champion grounded in Russia.

McGregor enhanced his claims as a contender to Nurmagomedov by beating Donald Cerrone inside a round at UFC 246 in January, but has largely resisted chances to taunt the man who beat him in 2018 and their rivals in recent weeks, concentrating instead on how his native Ireland is dealing with the health crisis.

He marked the ninth anniversary of the fastest win of his career by responding to a clip on Thursday that showed him beating Paddy Doherty in 2011, and has engaged in lively discussions with coach John Kavanagh and singer Sinead O’Connor over health measures during the past week.

While athletes and MMA fans predominantly applauded Ferguson’s footage, McGregor’s post sparked a barrage of comments and memes declaring which of the two would win a fight between them now.

One wrote: “Not sure what Conor is saying but I think it’s something about Tony looking drained at 155. Joke’s on Conor though because now Tony is going to re-hydrate in time to take more pictures for fight night tomorrow.”

UFC President Dana White claimed he was on the brink of finalizing a new location and headline fight for UFC 249 before being forced to confirm the cancellation in the wake of a succession of fighters pulling out amid restricted travel and health concerns during the global pandemic.

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