They say the third time is the charm but in this case, it’s the fourth.
Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov have been booked thrice in the past to fight each other but each time they were slated to fight, something happened in between that caused the fight to be cancelled. With barely two weeks to go before UFC 223, it appears that the fight everybody has been waiting for will finally happen.
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov are set to fight for the UFC Lightweight title at the main event of UFC 223 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Ferguson is the current interim title holder and has won a lightweight division record of 10 fights in a row.
In his last bout, Ferguson choked out Kevin Lee to become interim lightweight champion. El Cucuy has not lost since 2012 and appears to be only getting better.
Nurmagomedov is unbeaten in 25 fights and has 19 knockouts. In his most recent triumph, Khabib dominated Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The former combat sambo champion and judo black belt is one of the most dangerous fighters in the planet. He has beaten every man put in front of him and has won everything in the game except the belt.
Nurmagomedov is favored here at -275 at Bovada, while Ferguson came back at +215.
We know how dynamic of a striker Tony Ferguson is and we know how equally good he is with his submission game. El Cucuy has knockout power in both hands and he likes to put on the pressure and employ volume striking.
But Nurmagomedov is just as balanced as Ferguson is as a fighter. He is relentless in going for takedowns and once he secures them, it seems like his opponents never find a way to get out of them. But Khabib isn’t just a grappler, he also possesses a wide array of strikes and can finish his opponent with either hand.
The Best Lightweights
This is going to be one hell of a fight between the two best lightweights in the planet, Conor McGregor notwithstanding.
Sure, Khabib has looked invincible up to this point and no opponent has been able to really wrestle with him. But not only is Ferguson physically bigger, he is equally adept on the ground. In fact, El Cucuy may have more finishing moves than the Dagestani. On the feet, it’s almost even but it’s Ferguson who has the ability to end the fight with one punch.
Common sense tells us to bet on Nurmagomedov who hasn’t shown us anything to bet against him. But Ferguson is a different beast and he too has shown little reason to doubt him.
Another factor here could be Khabib’s inactivity. He’s fought just once in the past year and while it didn’t look obvious against Barboza, it could show against a more dynamic foe like Ferguson.
We’re getting almost twice the money with Ferguson and in a close fight like this, you’d like to go with that kind of line. We’re picking Tony Ferguson to win this fight and become the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.