Tristar gym head trainer Firas Zahabi was recently asked to give his thoughts on UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dominance. Zahabi said that he believes Nurmagomedov is the greatest lightweight in MMA history, but he believes that Tony Ferguson has the skills necessary to dethrone the champ.
Here’s what Zahabi said in an interview with Mohammed Hijab.
“If there’s anybody who can beat Khabib — and I don’t think there is, Khabib is the best lightweight in history — the only real contender is Tony Ferguson,” Zahabi said. “Ferguson does a lot of great jiu-jitsu. He’s great at getting back to his feet, he’s great at rolling out, he’s very aggressive off his back.”
Zahabi praised Ferguson’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu game and said it could potentially give Nurmagomedov problems if they ever do fight. The interviewer asked Zahabi if Ferguson could finish Nurmagomedov with the same guillotine choke that Dustin Poirier had locked in during their fight at UFC 242. Here’s what the coach said.
“Guillotine’s can be finishes for sure, but not the way Poirier had it. That could lead to a sweep,” Zahabi said. “But Ferguson could have turned it into an anaconda choke or D’arce choke. He’s well known for his D’arce choke. Guillotine, anaconda and D’arce, they go together. So I think Ferguson could have chained it. But the way Poirier was handling that guillotine, I think he should have went for a sweep instead of a choke.”
Zahabi also mentioned that aside from Ferguson, he thinks the only other fighter who can defeat Nurmagomedov is Islam Makhachev. However, Zahabi was quick to point out the fact the two are teammates and friends and that fight would never happen. So in Zahabi’s mind, the only true threat right now to Nurmagomedov is Ferguson, who has been actively campaigning to fight the champ as soon as possible. That is, unless the legend Georges St-Pierre comes back, and can convince the UFC to give him the next title shot instead.
Do you think Tony Ferguson has what it takes to defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/27/2019.