Kenny Florian is of the opinion that there is a real threat to Khabib Nurmagomedov lying within the UFC featherweight top-15.
During an appearance on the Pull No Punches podcast, Florian was asked to name three fighters he believes can seriously challenge the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib.
His first answer was one that may surprise some of you.
“It sounds crazy because he’s a 145-pounder, but you either need to be an absolute ninja on the ground, right? You need someone who can always put you on defense — someone like a Ryan Hall on the ground. Or you need someone who can absolutely keep it on the feet.
“It’s all about hitting and not being hit. How do you fight at your most effective form all the while protecting yourself. If you look at what is the heart of martial arts: first is not taking damage. At the core of all those things is a tremendous amount of complexity. What often seems simple can often take a complex route. Ryan is very much rooted in hardcore principals across the board, not just in striking and jiu-jitsu.”
For those of you who don’t know, Hall is amongst the most unorthodox fighters the sport has ever seen – a man who utilises an attack based around wild spinning-kicks and sudden flops to his back in order to bait his opponent into the grappling exchanges.
The Wizard is known primarily for his innovations in the world of jiu-jitsu and his mastery of the 50/50 position and recognized in the MMA sphere for his aforementioned style of fighting and his status as the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 22.
In his last outing, Hall managed to completely dominate the hardened veteran Darren Elkins – showing massive, and in some ways, scary improvements in his striking as he knocked down The Damage several times with his kicks.
The Wizard of Weird ?♂️
If this game was all about spinning kicks and Imanari rolls then Ryan Hall will be Champ in no time ?
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) July 16, 2019
And while a showdown against Nurmagomedov is highly unlikely, Hall seems to be on the verge of seeing his popularity explode in the big way – so much so that we outlined him as the dark horse of the featherweight division during our recent look at some of the sport’s unheralded talents.
Ryan Hall with the flash submission victory over BJ Penn in round one ?
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) December 30, 2018
Whether or not he can deliver on Florian’s high expectations is anyone’s guess but make no mistake, Ryan Hall is a legit threat at 145lbs.