Khabib Nurmagomedov has outlined that he believes Tony Ferguson will be the toughest opponent he has faced in the last couple of years when the two clash for the lightweight title at UFC 249 in April.
The pair have been on a collision course for the past few years and despite being scheduled to face each other on four separate occasions, weight-cutting issues and injuries have meant that a bout has failed to come to fruition.
Ferguson has been on a 12 fight win streak in the lightweight division while Khabib is still undefeated in his professional career becoming the UFC’s 155lb champion in the process.
Khabib has defeated some of the sport’s finest during his tear through the lightweight division however he, along with many others, believe a clash with Ferguson will undoubtedly be the toughest of his career to date.
“I think, just my opinion, my last couple of years, I compete with guys like Barboza, dos Anjos, Conor, Poirier, Iaquinta, all of these guys not tough like Tony Ferguson,” Nurmagomedov said in an interview with TMZ Sports.
“That’s why now I feel I have real motivation because before when I watched all these opponents I think like, ‘Okay, I can beat this guy.’ Of course, I work hard, but right now it’s a very, very tough opponent.
“That’s why we focus like always, but right now we have more focus, more hard work. Tony is not like these guys. He’s a little bit tougher than all of them.”
Ferguson’s camp also believe that he is in for an incredibly tough challenge with his jiu-jitsu coach Eddie Bravo outlining they are planning on bringing something Khabib has “never seen.”
“He is probably the best ground and pound wrestler ever, right? This is the toughest challenge ever in MMA for 10th Planet, that’s for sure.
“I’m just focusing on stuff that he’s [Khabib] never seen, because if I come at him with stuff he’s seen, then that’s not a good strategy,”