At UFC 242 on Saturday night, Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Dustin Poirier to retain his lightweight title. The win was Nurmagomedov’s 12th in a row in the UFC and immediately had fans discussing where Khabib ranks among the all-time greats of the sport. But there was one person who was not impressed with his performance: the man he will likely be facing next, Tony Ferguson.
Speaking with ESPN yesterday, Ferguson criticized Nurmagomedov’s performance at UFC 242.
“Lazy. One-dimensional,” Tony Ferguson said. “Nothing against him, both guys did awesome fight week. I know there was a lot of nerves and stuff. Khabib showed up, he obviously won. He put the pressure on Dustin and Dustin didn’t have an answer for it. Props to Khabib for winning but like I said, it’s lazy. We’ve prepared for this guy many times. He’s a good fighter but I know how to break that goat.”
When asked to clarify what he meant by lazy, Ferguson continued on saying that the way Khabib fights is uninteresting.
“Well, being my type of fighter and my type of guy, you know I throw a lot of barrage of punches, kicks, knees and elbows,” Ferguson said. “So when I see someone pushing against the cage and not really doing too much, being active and just kind of putting themselves like a wet blanket. In jiu-jitsu, we use that saying. He’s a wet blanket, just sitting there. It’s a lot of pressure. When I fought Danny Castillo he did the same thing. It’s interesting how Khabib fights but to me it’s just boring, it’s lazy.”
Nurmagomedov’s reliance on his wrestling has long been something detractors have held against him; however, in his previous two fights he has “smashed” his opponents and submitted both, even earning a Performance bonus against Poirier. But Ferguson says that was a result of Khabib taking on strikers. When he faces a grappler of his caliber, Ferguson says, Khabib will finally meet his match.
“You can’t just learn wrestling overnight:” said Ferguson. “In Dustin’s case, great fighter and everything but I’ve been doing this a lot longer than Dustin has as far as grappling and chain-wrestling and that kind of a thing. Not taking anything away from Dustin, Dustin went out there and did a hell of a job, same as Khabib, but my style’s a little bit different. Obviously it’s not always gonna work but right now for Khabib I believe my style is actually the one that could out-smart him and out-think him and out-move him, out-maneuver him and put him in places where he’s not familiar.”
Many do consider Ferguson to be the most difficult challenge for Nurmagomedov. A NCWA national champion in college, Ferguson is also a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt and is known for his funky, off-kilter grappling style that many believe could give Khabib trouble. Ferguson himself says he sees holes he can attack in Khabib’s game, but admits that by the time they fight, those holes may not be there.