Khabib Nurmagomedov straight up KICKED Tony Ferguson's interim UFC lightweight championship belt during an intense face-off Friday ... and it got VERY close to getting violent.
Khabib and Tony were doing a media event to promote their upcoming brawl at UFC 249 in April ... and the trash talk got VERY personal.
Tony trashed Khabib as a weak-minded, scared, fake brawler ... and Khabib fired back by calling Tony a "fake Mexican," since Tony was born and raised in California.
Tony was offended by the comments -- claiming he's a proud American AND a proud Mexican.
But, when it came time to square off for their face-to-face photo op, Tony laid his belt on the ground, seemingly challenging Khabib to do something ... and Khabib reacted by kicking the belt.
Tony eventually picked up the belt and accused Khabib of disrespecting the UFC -- claiming Khabib doesn't really care about the company.
Sure, this may have been over-the-top to generate buzz (mission accomplished) but it seems like the rivalry is very real ... and they both can't wait to get in the Octagon and settle things once and for all!!!