Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov is likely one of the most anticipated contests in UFC history. While two lightweights have been scheduled together numerous times, and are yet to trade blows, the ability of the pair means their clash at UFC 223 has fans salivating once again.
While there will naturally be some trepidation from viewers until the pair are in the cage, once the bell rings to start the fight, the biggest contest of the year will be underway. Both men are riding serious waves of momentum, and their contrasting styles promises to make up a fascinating battle.
And, heading into it, Tony Ferguson is lacking — as you might expect — absolutely no confidence.
“I’m going to embarrass him,” Ferguson said, speaking to newsday.com. “I don’t want to hurt the guy, I’m going to embarrass him. So he’s got one chance to sit down, quit and walk away.
“I’m going to put him on his back, I’m going to take him down. You think he’s been preparing any rubber guard? I hope so, but I don’t think so. He’s got no flexibility, his right knee is a bum knee. His conditioning is weak and his body, he’s really had a lot of problems with his weight cut. So where do you think I’m going to go with my punches? There’s no secret, I’m going to punish his body. Then I’m going to go upstairs, I’m going to take him down, I’m going to go knee-on-belly, I’m going to put my hand on his throat and I’m going to hold my hand up like a [expletive] wolverine claw and I’m going to tell him to [expletive] quit.
“I’ve prepared for this guy a couple times already and nothing’s really changed, I’m going to bring it. I’m not going to be scared to use wrestling, and I think I’ve been sandbagging my wrestling for everyone for so damn long — and my boxing and my Muay Thai — that everybody forgot that I’m actually a great stand-up fighter. I beat one of the world’s best in Edson Barboza and I outstruck him.”
It’s wildly believed Ferguson’s route to victory is to avoid the oppressive wrestling style from Nurmagomedov, who’s had little issue taking any of his previous opponents to the mat and smothering them. While that ability has so far been able to keep Nurmagomedov unbeaten (and indeed, looking nearly unbeatable), Ferguson sees opportunities where others don’t.
“The opponent we have right now typically is a sambo style fighter and he’s very tough and has a strong head on his shoulders, but I just see that he’s weak in so many different departments that he had to hire a bigger team and really needed more time,” Ferguson said. “If the dude was ready, he would have fought me in May, I gave him that opportunity. But he wanted to go fight somebody else. You don’t want to fight me, you never did.”
“Half of his fights were only two-round fights. These weren’t sanctioned three-round fights. His conditioning hasn’t even been tested yet. You want to go into deep waters, son, you’re going to fight the kraken. I’m no longer a hammerhead, I’m the [expletive] kraken. I’m the guy that’s going to have the longest limbs, I’m going to ankle-pick you, I’m going to put you on your back, I’m going to spin you around like a turtle and I’m going to go knee-on-belly and I’m going to give you one chance with my arm around your neck and I’m going to look at like you like a wolverine. ‘Cause I am a Michigan wolverine and a California grizzly, now when you have those two, you have an El Cucuy. I’m straight up going to put rocks in his face and he’s going to have a hard time to accept that loss, that’s for damn sure.”