Experts weigh in – Will Tony Ferguson be the one to end Khabib Nurmagomedov’s unbeaten streak?

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Experts weigh in - Will Tony Ferguson be the one to end Khabib Nurmagomedov's unbeaten streak?

Khabib Nurmagomedov has misplaced simply one spherical whereas racking up a 12-Zero report within the UFC.

It is the second-best begin in UFC historical past behind Anderson Silva, who received his first 16. Nurmagomedov’s 28-Zero general report is the most effective in MMA. Amongst lightweights, he has probably the most takedowns landed and highest strike differential, in line with ESPN Stats & Info information.

Unbeatable, proper?

Possibly not.

When Nurmagomedov faces Tony Ferguson on April 18 in Brooklyn, he’ll be going through somebody who can also be on a 12-fight UFC win streak. Ferguson hasn’t been stopped in 16 UFC fights — fourth-best streak in historical past — and has received 21 of his 26 general by stoppage.

Many are already trying ahead to a Khabib rematch with Conor McGregor — who received the third spherical earlier than being choked out within the fourth of their Oct. 6, 2018 bout. However Ferguson will not be somebody who ought to be ignored.

ESPN’s MMA panel of Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim break down the matchup.

What would a Ferguson win appear like?

Tony Ferguson brings a chaotic, high-energy, offensive assault to the Octagon, and if he can preserve the battle standing, Nurmagomedov’s unblemished report may be in jeopardy. AP Photograph/John Locher

Helwani: Nurmagomedov is probably the most dominant fighter in UFC historical past, and I’ve a tough time believing Ferguson will cease Nurmagomedov. I believe Ferguson should go the gap and out-tough him. Simpler stated than finished, after all.

Okamoto: Ferguson is without doubt one of the most entertaining fighters on the earth, as a result of he is all motion. Nurmagomedov is entertaining in his personal proper, however for a really totally different purpose. It is entertaining to look at Nurmagomedov’s dominance on the ground. “Motion” will not be one of many first phrases you’d use to explain a Nurmagomedov battle. He will get his prey to the bottom and he does not allow them to again up. So, a Ferguson win would appear like a Ferguson battle: He would defend Nurmagomedov’s takedowns, and beat him standing. If he does get taken down, he’d pull out some sort of somersault, spherical off, triple axel reverse to get again up. And if he have been held down for any actual period of time, he’d throw elbows from the underside like they are going out of favor. Motion is Ferguson’s buddy. A grapple-fest will not be.

Raimondi: Chaotic. Ferguson excels in a non-linear sort of battle — numerous scrambles, numerous distinctive positions. He’d doubtless use a number of points of MMA to get it finished, not simply putting or wrestling. There would virtually actually be some sort of mixture of the 2. Nurmagomedov is without doubt one of the greatest wrestlers on the earth, however Ferguson is harmful off his again. Ferguson can also be a dynamic and fearless striker. He is unpredictable, which works to his benefit. Plus, Ferguson has cardio for days. There is a purpose he hasn’t misplaced since 2012.

Wagenheim: Ferguson’s cornermen have to whisper in his ear that the UFC has electrified the Octagon fencing and, if he desires to keep away from electrocution, he must keep away from the cage. By remaining in open area, Tony will likely be giving himself his greatest shot at retaining the battle standing. That means he can make the most of his unpredictable assaults to attempt to put Nurmagomedov on the defensive. We’ve not seen anybody succeed at doing this towards Khabib, so perhaps it is fantasy. However it’s much less outlandish fantasy than the notion that Ferguson can pull off a submission from beneath a Dagestani lead blanket.


How does Ferguson’s grappling capacity examine to Khabib’s?

The UFC will return on Saturday, with an up-and-coming heavyweight trying to knock off a longtime veteran in the primary occasion. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who’s 9-Zero and opened eyes along with his first-round KO win over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 244, will face the hardest problem of his profession in Alistair Overeem. “The Demolition Man” is 45-17 and has earned two straight first-round TKO wins.

UFC Struggle Evening: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik
• Saturday, Washington, D.C.
Early prelims: ESPN+, 5:30 p.m. ET
Prelims: ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Foremost card: ESPN, 9 p.m. ET

Subscribe to ESPN+ to get unique stay UFC occasions, weigh-ins and extra; Ariel and the Dangerous Man; Dana White’s Contender Collection; and extra unique MMA content material.

Helwani: Ferguson could be very unorthodox in all aspects of the sport. He is as unconventional because it will get in coaching, putting and grappling. Nurmagomedov is extra of a standard Russian grappler/wrestler. He’s powerful, sturdy and relentless. The latter trait may be his most spectacular one. I imply, did you see the best way he was cupping Dustin Poirier’s mouth throughout their battle in September? You do not see that sort of approach typically.

Okamoto: Ferguson has a robust wrestling background that features success at the highschool and collegiate ranges. Ferguson has by no means actually fought like a standard, American collegiate wrestler in MMA, although. He has a mode that’s uniquely his personal, which he has crafted totally on his personal. He is additionally a black belt in Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system. Now, that stated, there’s not a light-weight on the planet who owns a bonus over Nurmagomedov’s grappling. Nurmagomedov is the most effective on the earth at taking an opponent down and retaining him there. What makes this matchup attention-grabbing is Ferguson’s fuel tank and his unorthodox model. The cardio cannot be overstated. Nurmagomedov prides himself in making opponents drained. Ferguson does not get drained.

Raimondi: Nurmagomedov is an oppressive wrestler with a number of methods to place opponents on their backs. As soon as there, Nurmagomedov has choices. He can floor and pound from the highest or he can get foes right into a leg-ride sort of place towards the fence, which is the place he cinched that jaw crank on McGregor at UFC 229. Nurmagomedov is difficult to shake off as soon as he has that sort of place. Whereas Nurmagomedov is suffocating, Ferguson is dynamic. He is rolling for legs, being aggressive, going for submissions. Each males are wonderful grapplers, however they could not be any extra totally different of their method.

Wagenheim: Khabib goes to maneuver you towards the cage, lure you there, lock up your physique and take you down, then wrap his legs round yours to immobilize you whereas he works his physique into prime place, from the place he beats you up. He’s as methodical as he’s unstoppable. Ferguson, however, is all concerning the scramble and the scrap, his martial arts expressed within the chaotic summary. He’s Jackson Pollock impetuousness, whereas Khabib is as coldly resolute as, say, Edward Hopper. Sorry, champ, however I do not know sufficient artwork historical past to quote a Russian grasp of harsh realism.


Is Ferguson a extra harmful opponent for Khabib than Conor?

Nurmagomedov may be the most effective grappler on the earth, as Conor McGregor discovered the onerous means. AP Photograph/John Locher, File

Helwani: Proper now, sure, as a result of Nurmagomedov has by no means fought Ferguson. So, off the bat, Ferguson presents questions Nurmagomedov has by no means answered. Ferguson can also be a tad craftier on the bottom, in order that will likely be attention-grabbing, however lest we overlook McGregor was the primary and solely individual to win a spherical towards Nurmagomedov.

Okamoto: Sure, I consider he’s, for causes we have already highlighted. Ferguson has extra grappling expertise than McGregor and higher endurance. Ferguson in all probability does not have the one-punch knockout energy of McGregor, however let’s not faux he does not hit onerous. He has sneaky energy and extra methods to complete a battle than McGregor. And once more, the cardio is big. Cardio is necessary towards Nurmagomedov.

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