Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coach Javier Mendez explains why Tony Ferguson is the UFC lightweight champion’s toughest challenge yet.
The head coach and mastermind behind American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) has been training the UFC’s lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov for many years. Despite the looming threat of Coronavirus, today is no exception as they continue to prepare for his anticipated showdown against Tony Ferguson on Saturday 18th April.
In a recent interview on Submission Radio, Mendez gave credit to Nurmagomedov’s former opponent, Conor McGregor’s striking ability. But he admitted that “El Cucuy” will be the toughest challenge of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s career:
“Well for me, I just go by the toughest opponent. I think overall, Tony [Ferguson] is the toughest opponent, overall, with everything in skill set,” stated Javier Mendez.
“Striking wise, I think Conor [McGregor] was the best striker he has ever faced. But I think overall, Tony has got the best overall skills out of anybody he [Nurmagomedov] has ever fought. ‘Cause he’s dangerous on the feet and he’s dangerous on the ground. He’s got decent wrestling, he’s dangerous everywhere.
“Khabib has also improved a lot in so many different areas. The last [fight] wasn’t as good as he is in this fight so we will see a new Khabib.”
The title challenger, Ferguson, hasn’t fought since his UFC 238 TKO victory against Donald Cerrone in June 2019. 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu kingpin, Eddie Bravo revealed they are relentlessly preparing for his upcoming matchup and Ferguson’s wrestling is “light-years” ahead of Conor McGregor.
Mendez expects to see a new Tony Ferguson, but remains confident in his fighter‘s talents:
“And we’re definitely going to see a new Tony. But at the end of the day, Is Tony the toughest opponent? In some ways, yes, and in other ways no,” he said.
“We will see when we get there. It’s hard to say. You know he’s never fought someone like Tony. Tony has never fought someone like him. We’ll see what happens when Khabib takes him down because that’s going to happen, and we’ll see if Tony can do what he’s used to doing.
“He [Ferguson] may find he can’t and that may be one of the areas where he’ll go ‘oh cr*p, I didn’t realise he was this good.’ Mostly, everybody that’s ever dealt with him [Nurmagomedov], they come up saying, ‘I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was that good.'”
The event location is yet to be confirmed but it is expected to take place from a closed arena to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
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