The SBG Ireland head-coach broke down exactly how he feels Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov stack up against each other ahead of their apparently confirmed matchup at UFC 223.
For all of the talk of it probably being amongst the most talent-rich divisions in the UFC right now, lightweight is a bit of a mess as we move into the first quarter of 2018. Its champion Conor McGregor is apparently still deep in negotiations with the UFC, determined for them to pay him what he feels he is worth and while the divisional interim-title was won by Tony Ferguson in strong fashion at UFC 216, all signs point to him having to defend that belt against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.
In fairness though, it’s one helluva matchup on paper.
As two of the UFC’s most in-form fighters, fans have been clamouring to see these two inside the octagon together for years but after three separate attempts to make it happen, injuries and illnesses have kept Ferguson and Khabib apart.
It would seem as though it really cannot happen again at this stage, but with us moving ever-closer to UFC 223, fans will no doubt be biting their nails as both men attempt to keep themselves in order.
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s recent pounding of Edson Barboza was a bout that reminded the world exactly how dominant he is and apparently, the Russian went through a much more successful fight camp as far as his nutrition and eventual weight-cut were concerned.
Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh is a man who will no doubt have his eyes firmly fixed on April 7’s main-event and in a recent Q&A session he ran through the official Wimp2Warrior Facebook page, he outlined exactly how he feels the fight will play out.
“They’re both grapplers for starters; neither has really high-level striking, so it’s going to be a grappling match. I think a lot of it will be played with Khabib on top. I think he wins a decision. I think it goes the five rounds, I think it’s a decision Khabib.
“I do think there’s a really high risk of it not happening. It’s been scheduled twice, and it’s not happened twice. It’s very impressive what Khabib can do when he is fighting – just that pace he has and the relentless pressure. But it does require you to train in a certain way.
“I would see a high likelihood of one of them pulling out before the fight happens. But let’s assume both get through the training camps, both are healthy and the fight happens and it’s five rounds. I think Tony will have his moments in the first round or two.
“He’ll get close with some guillotines maybe, or some triangles. But I think Khabib powers out of them and wears him down. I don’t think he really has the stopping power to really finish him.” – (via MMAJunkie)
When the fight was booked for what was then the third time at UFC 209, many had pointed to the matchup as perhaps the most anticipated in the history of the lightweight division. Considering Ferguson and Nurmagomedov’s wins over Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza since then, it could well be said that now, it is the most electric pairing we will see all year.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena