9th-ranked UFC lightweight contender Michael Chiesa will be watching very closely when Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov battle for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223 this April 7. With another few impressive wins, after all, he could very easily find himself locked in the cage with the winner.
So who does Chiesa expect that winner to be? He’s leaning in the direction of Nurmagomedov on the basis of Nurmagomedov’s world class grappling ability.
“Khabib has got the equalizer,” Chiesa told MMAjunkie this week. “We’re talking that wrestling and pressure. It’s unparalleled.”
While Chiesa expects Nurmagomedov to come out on top, he expects the fight to be close. In his eyes, Ferguson is not likely to attempt to stop the takedowns, but rather use them to do damage from the bottom. From this bottom position, Chiesa believes Ferguson could actually win a few rounds.
“I don’t see Tony trying to stop the takedowns,” Chiesa said. “But Khabib’s going to pay for it.”
“I still think Khabib wins, three [rounds] to two,” he clarified. “Possibly a split decision. I think Tony’s going to win some rounds off his back.
“[If] Tony wins, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I just don’t know if [he has] the right grappling style to beat Khabib. I think to beat Khabib, you’ve got to maintain a scramble once you hit the floor and try to spin around and scramble to dominant position. I think Tony’s going to accept the guard. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I don’t think it’s the best thing.”
Michael Chiesa will also fight at UFC 223, as he’s set to battle former champion Anthony Pettis on the main card. Chiesa lost his most recent bout, giving up a controversial submission loss to Kevin Lee.
What’s your prediction for UFC 223’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson main event?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/28/2018.