Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. They’ve been on a collision path since 2015. A lot has been said, but none of it was able to be backed up. This will be the fourth time the two will attempt to get inside the Octagon and finally go at it. You’d think that after all that, the scrap would lose steam, but not this one. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov’s fight is still one of the very best lightweight battles in the world. Especially after Khabib’s triumphant and dominant return. Which is why manager Ali Abdel-Aziz is worried about Ferguson. No, seriously.
“I feel sorry for Tony Ferguson, because on April 7th, Tony Ferguson is probably never gonna fight again. I’m concerned for his well-being, I’m serious. I’m not just saying that to promote a fight. I’m concerned for him. I’m hearing some reports — and I respect Eddie Bravo, he’s a legend — I’m hearing that [Ferguson would] accept, he’d be more than happy for Khabib to take him down. And I’ll tell you something, [Nurmagomedov]’s not gonna be a normal human being. He’ll be in trouble. Because if he accepts takedown from Khabib and he will take him down, he will disfigure his whole entire face.”
“If UFC approves, I’ll fight both Conor and Tony in the same night. Why not? I swear, this is no joke.”@TeamKhabib at the post fight presser.
— UFC (@ufc) December 31, 2017
“It’s gonna be brutal, it’s gonna be ugly, it’s gonna be bloody, because Khabib was very nice to [Edson] Barboza. He was very nice to Michael Johnson. But I’m telling you something, one thing that Khabib is not gonna do, he’s not gonna be nice to Tony Ferguson. My prediction: Tony Ferguson will probably need to take two years off or maybe not come back after this fight. […] The stuff they’re working on — they send me the video every night — f-cking scary, man. I’m concerned about Tony Ferguson, because I think Tony Ferguson is a nice guy. I’m concerned — again, one more time — I really mean it. I’m concerned with Tony Ferguson’s health. He will not be the same. He might not fight again.” — Ali Abdel-Aziz speaking to MMA Fighting.
— Sports Illustrated MMA (@SI_MMA) January 19, 2018
As hard as it is to believe, Khabib Nurmagomedov was being nice to Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson. He evenly openly talked about it. Who can forget him telling Johnson to give up and speaking later how he didn’t jerk his arm, afraid he’d break it. It won’t be like that against Tony Ferguson. We’ll be seeing Khabib at his most angry and his most violent. Of course, durable and game El Cucuy won’t back down from the challenge and will look to slice the Russian with elbows while trying for submission after submission. UFC 223 can’t get here soon enough.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/6/2018.