A ton of people have been speaking their mind on the fact that the co-main event of UFC 209, Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson, should be the main attraction of the show. Whether or not you agree with that point, the truth of the matter is that this fight is certainly one for the ages as both men have looked nigh invincible during their UFC tenure. What’s more, one of these men will have to experience the bitter taste of defeat as they head for a collision course that could be one of the greatest lightweight scraps in the sport’s history.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is an absolute savage. To neglect to mention the fact would be remiss on my part. Since entering the UFC he’s looked pretty damn impressive. He capped off his twenty-fourth straight win with a domination of Michael Johnson. What makes Khabib so dangerous? His indomitable will that sees the Dagestan native push the pace, push towards his opponents with strikes, then wrap his arms around his prey where the thrashing begins. While his striking may not be polished, Khabib has found a way to make it effective. He’ll throw a standard one-two, then instantly explode forward with a hook in order to enter into the clinch and secure a takedown by any means.
Whether it’s a judo throw, double or single leg, once Khabib is in that clinch position you either need to spin off and push away the head or find yourself with your back to the mat.
On the other side of the equation we have Tony Ferguson who brings a much more balanced skill set to the table. He has striking, he has wrestling, and great submission abilities. His gas tank seems to be endless and he pushes the pace with consistent striking combinations from lead uppercuts to sharp low leg kicks. Ferguson also enjoys switching stances in the middle of combo strings to find the inside and outside angles in hopes exploiting openings. He’ll throw a cross from orthodox stance, switch to south paw where he’ll through a rear uppercut, back to orthodox for a rear leg kick to a spinning back fist. His striking is at once technical and chaotic and always packs a punch. But his he’s more controlled than his foe in that he uses fundamentals.
His jab is sharp and long and he uses it as a legit weapon as well as a range finder which adds variety to his striking arsenal. Ferguson will do well to keep Khabib on the end of his punches and if the Sambo specialist does try to shoot for the takedown, a traditional needs to be at the ready and if he can’t manage that, his nifty forward roll needs to be on hand to create a scramble.
I’ve always said that Ferguson would be a tougher match up for Conor McGregor if the legit lightweight champ ever decides to come back and defend his title. That’s not to say that Khabib wouldn’t give McGregor trouble, but the pace that Ferguson can put on people, coupled with his size, striking, chin, and submission game, makes him a terrible match up for the lightweight champ. That’s not to say Khabib can’t grind McGregor into the cage, land a takedown and smash him on the ground. Either way, we still have to see Ferguson and Khabib do the damn thing at UFC 209. I’ll be sure to watching with a whiskey in hand and a smile plastered across my face.
Who do you think wins the interim lightweight title: Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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