Brian Ortega believes there is only one fighter that stands in the way of UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, and that is Tony Ferguson.
The No. 2 ranked featherweight fighter Ortega is convinced that Ferguson has what it takes to defeat the lightweight champion. Ferguson is the former interim lightweight champion and a jiu-jitsu black belt, and he is expected to fight Nurmagomedov in his next bout.
Ortega believes the jiu-jitsu skillset is needed to overcome the sambo and grappling dominance of Nurmagomedov.
“Tony is an amazing athlete – (and) he’s a great jiu-jitsu guard player as well,” Ortega told Kumite TV.
“But when I see things, there are just certain positions that I feel like I’m better at than certain people, and vice-versa, they’re better than me in certain positions. But the positions that Khabib is amazing at, I’m equally as amazing from the bottom of the coin,”
Khabib Nurmagomedov has maintained a commanding position in the lightweight division since he fought Al Iaquinta for the belt in April 2018. His last fight was against Dustin Poirier in September at UFC 242. Some fans were convinced that ‘The Diamond’ could take home the victory, but Nurmagomedov delivered an almost faultless performance and submitted his opponent in the third round.
There was a brief moment in the fight when fans thought the tables had turned. Poirier latched on to a guillotine choke, something that Brian Ortega believes he could do better if he got his hands on the Dagestani fighter.
“I feel like if anyone’s going to beat him, it’s Ferguson. And if not, we’re going to have to wait until I come up,” he said.
“I feel like anyone who I wrap up is in danger, and the level of danger is extreme. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and I’ve been going with the top-level grapplers in the entire world and finishing them, and catching them. So this is something that’s in the future, for sure.”
Ortega is aiming big and wants to take on the champ, but he needs to fight “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung before he thinks about moving up a weight category. Ortega will be taking on the undead Korean on December 21 at UFC Busan.
“Hopefully Khabib doesn’t retire,” Ortega concluded.
“Give me some time to go in there and let me do what I have to do and prove myself the way he proved himself. Let me become a champ. Then I feel like I have the right to really call him out and have it be a lot more serious than just saying his name in interviews.”
What do you think of these comments from Brian Ortega?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/18/2019.