It is finally about to happen! After what seemed like an endlessly long wait, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are all set to face each other on the 18th of April at UFC 249.
MMA fans all over the world, including yours truly, have been clamoring for this fight for years now and their wish has finally been granted. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most anticipated fight in the history of the UFC.
Why is this fight so eagerly anticipated by legions of fans? There are three reasons, actually.
The Winning Streaks of Khabib and Ferguson
Khabib is currently undefeated with an incredible 28-0 record. That in itself is an impressive feat, but it looks even more impressive when you consider the caliber of the fighters he has faced so far.
Khabib’s most notable victims include
- Gleison Tibau who was juiced to the gills for the fight and literally looked a welterweight
- Rafael dos Anjos whose boxing skills are as good as his grappling skills and is one of the most complete athletes in the division
- Michael Johnson who has the fastest hands in the division
- Edson Barboza who is the most lethal kicker in the history of the division
- Conor McGregor who is the best striker in the division
- Dustin Poirier who is one of the best fighters in the division and is tenacious to the core
Not to be outdone, Ferguson too is on a 12-fight winning streak, which he has earned after beating the best fighters in the division.
Ferguson’s most notable victims include
- Gleison Tibau who was again juiced to the gills (gotta give him props for consistency!)
- Kevin Lee who is the second-best wrestler in the division after Khabib
- Anthony Pettis who is one of the most accomplished strikers in the division
- Donald Cerrone who can grapple as well as he strikes and is always a dangerous opponent
In addition to this, Ferguson has also beaten Edson Barboza and Rafael dos Anjos – an accomplishment he shares with Khabib.
The Contrast in Their Fighting Styles
Perhaps the biggest reason why Khabib vs. Ferguson promises to be such an exciting fight is the stark contrast in their fighting styles.
Khabib is the best takedown artist in the division by a mile. He likes to take his opponents down, pin their legs together, suffocate them with constant pressure, and maul them. He has managed to do it to everyone he has faced so far, even though many of his opponents are known for their stellar takedown defense.
Ferguson, on the other hand, likes to stand and bang with his opponents. He constantly throws combinations and mixes it up with vicious elbows that tend to slice people up.
More importantly, Ferguson does not mind getting taken down by his opponents, as he has a dangerous guard and can submit people from the bottom. A good example is the triangle choke he pulled off against Kevin Lee in the third round, after getting down repeatedly in the previous two rounds. Also, he tends to throw elbows from the bottom to prevent his opponents from trying to submit him or ground and pound him.
So, in essence, you have a fighter in Khabib who loves to take his opponents down and beat them into a pulp or submit them and another fight in Ferguson who can damage his opponents with his elbows and submit them from the bottom.
On a visceral level, the fight between Khabib and Ferguson seems even more exciting. Khabib has never been hurt by any of his opponents so far. He has never endured a cut or even a scrape from any of his fights. Ferguson, on the other hand, is someone who enjoys a dog fight. He has hurt all of his opponents so far. If you want to know what Tony Ferguson’s victim looks like, you can check out this picture, which looks like it is straight out of a horror movie.
The question is – will Khabib manage to end the fight without getting cut? Or will Ferguson, who has cut and sliced up every one of his opponents so far – do that to Khabib too?
The Long Wait
This is also a reason why so many fans have been longing for this fight for so long. Khabib vs. Ferguson has been canceled not once, not twice, but four times so far.
- The first time, they were expected to face each other in 2015 at the finale of Ultimate Fighter 22. However, Khabib pulled out of the fight due to an injury.
- The second time, they were expected to face each other in 2016 at UFC on Fox 19. This time, Ferguson pulled out due to a health problem.
- The third time, they were expected to face each other in 2017 at UFC 209 – with the interim lightweight championship on the line. Khabib pulled out again due to a botched weight cut.
- The fourth time, they were expected to face each other in 2018 at UFC 223. This time, Ferguson pulled out of the fight due to a ligament injury, which he sustained when he tripped over a cable and fell. Talk about bad luck!
Now, the fight has been scheduled for a fifth time, which is a first in UFC history. No other fight has been canceled so many times and rescheduled again. With any other fight between any other fighters, the fans would have lost interest a long time ago. Not with this fight though! The fans are as excited as ever and cannot wait to see the fight.
If anything, the stakes are even higher this time. Khabib is the undisputed champion and Ferguson – according to many fans – was unfairly stripped off his interim title. So, we have a situation where two fighters who have an equal claim to the title are fighting each other.
Make no mistake about it – this is the most eagerly awaited fight in UFC history. April 18 can’t come soon enough!