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'They picked him apart like a schoolboy' - Khabib Nurmagomedov explains why Tony Ferguson is done

Khabib Nurmagomedov (left); Tony Ferguson (right)
Khabib Nurmagomedov (left); Tony Ferguson (right)
Johny Payne
Modified 23 Feb 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov has suggested that Tony Ferguson is done as a top fighter. Nurmagomedov emphasized that Ferguson was picked apart 'like a schoolboy' in his recent losses.

Tony Ferguson entered his UFC 249 fight in May 2020 riding a 12-fight win streak. Ferguson's last loss came via unanimous decision way back in May 2012, and he had been on an incredible run ever since.

However, El Cucuy's fantastic run came to an end when he was defeated via fifth-round TKO by Justin Gaethje at UFC 249. Following this, Tony Ferguson dropped his next fight as well, losing to Charles Oliveira via unanimous decision at UFC 256 in December 2020.

Interviewing Khabib Nurmagomedov (video courtesy of RT Sport MMA), Magomed Ismailov pointed out that despite Nurmagomedov having beaten some of the world's best fighters, his detractors still find ways to suggest that he isn't the best fighter out there.

On that note, Ismailov asked Khabib Nurmagomedov which fighter he ought to have faced and beaten to be considered the undisputable best fighter. Nurmagomedov responded to this by stating:

“Maybe it should have been Tony Ferguson. Maybe. All of my close ones would confirm this – I swear, I have never considered him an elite lightweight. He is very good; was very good; but never an elite one. You just can’t belong to the elite at the age of 37. Nobody has ever done this, and even Khabib can’t. Heavyweight is a different story. But at 155 pounds, never. Nobody could change my mind in this regard, that’s first.”
“Second of all, since 2016, he (Tony Ferguson) has fought Kevin Lee, (Edson) Barboza, (Anthony) Pettis, and (Donald) Cerrone. These four have 20 losses combined for the last four years. So, since 2016, he hasn’t fought any solid competition. But now he is facing young, tough, top lightweights – Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. And they both picked him apart like a schoolboy. You saw it yourself. Both fights were a total domination.”
“I had always dreamed to face him (Tony Ferguson) – no talks, just a fight – but God didn’t want to make it happen. Something always happened, either with him or me.” Khabib Nurmagomedov said, alluding to how the much-discussed dream matchup between him and Tony Ferguson fell apart on multiple occasions. “I was taken to the hospital, was really on the brink of death, he was going through some surgeries – If it’s not meant to happen, it’s simply impossible. So, maybe that was the fight you are asking about. But I am sure, following my total domination over him, just like I dominated Gaethje…Look, he (Tony Ferguson) wouldn’t do anything to me on the feet. When it goes to the ground, I would just steamroll him.”

Furthermore, Khabib Nurmagomedov explained that even if he had beaten Tony Ferguson, some people would still refuse to accept Nurmagomedov as the best fighter in the world. Nurmagomedov also reiterated that Tony Ferguson’s days as a top lightweight fighter are finished.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is likely to stay retired, whereas Tony Ferguson is still aiming for UFC gold

Khabib Nurmagomedov (left); Tony Ferguson (right)
Khabib Nurmagomedov (left); Tony Ferguson (right)

Khabib Nurmagomedov still holds the UFC lightweight title, despite having retired from MMA in October 2020. As of this time, it’s unclear as to whether Nurmagomedov will vacate the title or be stripped of it by the UFC.

On the contrary, Tony Ferguson has vowed to return triumphantly, as he continues his quest to win UFC gold. Ferguson previously held the interim UFC lightweight title. And irrespective of his recent setbacks, the fan-favorite lightweight fighter could get back into the race for the undisputed UFC lightweight title with a couple of wins this year.

Published 23 Feb 2021, 05:40 IST
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