Al Iaquinta believes Khabib Nurmagomedov will probably beat Tony Ferguson — if they ever end up fighting.
In the main event of UFC 249, the undisputed lightweight champ Nurmagomedov was set to defend his title for the third time against Ferguson. Unfortunately, the event was ultimately canceled, marking the fifth time a bout between the pair had fallen through.
One fighter who is equipped to hypothesize the outcome of this potential fight is Nurmagomedov’s former foe, Iaquinta.
The lightweights collided in the Octagon at UFC 223 in 2018. Nurmagomedov was originally pencilled in to fight Ferguson on that card, but his opponent pulled out due to a knee injury. Max Holloway and Paul Felder were pushed as alternatives but neither came to fruition. As a result, “Raging” Iaquinta filled in at the eleventh hour and delivered an impressive performance. He lost the bout to Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision but has been commended for performing so well against the champ, especially on such short notice.
Iaquinta respects the skills of Ferguson, but not enough to hedge his bets.
“If I had to put my money somewhere, I was putting it on Khabib for sure,” Iaquinta told BJPENN.com. “[But] Tony is a wild card, the guy’s won twelve fights in a row so that right there. He is just so out of his mind and so wild and crazy, and he’s got a gas tank, those elbows and stuff!
“But from what I’ve seen in the past, I think that Khabib wouldn’t have too hard of a time to get him down,” Iaquinta added, “And I think his ground control, he’s just so good at controlling people and staying in good positions on the ground. I don’t know if Tony would have been able to reverse the control.”
Iaquinta believes the secret to overthrowing Nurmagomedov is to keep the action away from the cage — a theory he developed in his own fight with the Russian champion.
“You don’t want to be against the cage, you want to be in the middle, which I think that with Tony, he just comes forward,” Iaquinta said. “I think that could’ve been something to think about, but Khabib is just so good. His wrestling is great, but against the cage, I don’t think anyone’s stopping him. He’s got some trips and stuff that are very unique to his style and I think he uses them really well.”
Do you think Al Iaquinta is right and that Khabib Nurmagomedov’s wrestling would see him through to another win against Tony Ferguson? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/13/2020.