Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are set for one of the most highly-anticipated fights in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA) this April.
Nurmagomedov puts his lightweight championship up for grabs against “El Cucuy” in the UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) headliner on April 18 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a fight that has been booked four times before, with the bout falling through each time due to injury. Now, the MMA world is hoping that the fifth time will be the charm, and both Nurmagomedov and Ferguson can make the walk healthy come April.
Ahead of the bout, Nurmagomedov’s American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) coach, Javier Mendez, spoke to AKA Fight News on YouTube to discuss the matchup. During the interview, Mendez touched on how much praise Ferguson receives for his cardio inside the Octagon. However, Mendez mentioned that Nurmagomedov is also a cardio machine, and the AKA camp anticipates a five-round war with “El Cucuy.” (H/T The Body Lock MMA)
“You have to remember Khabib is a cardio machine too, so what’s the big deal?” Mendez said. “So you got a guy [Ferguson] that’s going to be there in the fifth round — so what? Khabib is going to be in the fifth round too. I don’t anticipate a stoppage. I anticipate a war, five rounds. I expect a five-round decision and a smashing.
“That’s what I’m predicting and that’s what, in my mind, we’re prepared to do. But in order to do that, we have to prepare for the toughest person we’ve yet to face and that’s Tony. You have to respect him that way in order to smash him that way. I’ve always done that. The respect for him is there because if we don’t respect him, we’re going to get smashed by him.
“You got to respect him and everything he does. And his five-round cardio thing, yeah, he’s going to be there for five rounds but when has Khabib been known to get tired?”
Ferguson is currently on a ridiculous 12-fight win streak in the UFC’s lightweight division. That run included an interim lightweight championship run, with wins over Kevin Lee, Edson Barboza, Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, and more. Now, he’ll finally get his opportunity to test himself against Nurmagomedov, the undefeated 28-0 champion who has looked virtually unstoppable inside the Octagon.
Many believe that, if anyone, Ferguson is the man to give the Russian grappling sensation a run for his money. His ability to work wonders off of his back on the mat, his phenomenal jiu-jitsu ability, and unorthodox striking techniques are unlike anything Nurmagomedov has ever seen. It will be interesting to see if his record remains spotless after battling with Ferguson in April.
What do you make of Mendez’s prediction for a five-round war between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson?