We are now just over two weeks away from the most anticipated fight of the year, and it can not have come at a better time for fans or the UFC.
Tony vs. Khabib has been near the top of everyone’s “must see” fight list since the two started making their push for the title near the end of 2016. Back then the landscape was a little different. Conor McGregor had just won the lightweight title by putting a beat-down on Eddie Alvarez and everyone was basically battling for the right to get a shot at him. Some people still consider the timing of McGregor’s jump to boxing a reaction to the fear of defending his belt against real stiff competition like Khabib or Tony (although honestly, it may have just been the 100 Million dollars that made him do it.) Since then, Conor has all but relinquished the lightweight strap and now sits perched high upon his mountain of money, waiting to see how things unfold.
The absence of Conor from the sport, as well as the constant failings of Jon Jones has left a vacuum of charisma and star power. As a result(either directly or indirectly), the UFC continues to play with the idea of money making “super fights” in order to keep fans interested. I’m not here to tell you that super fights are bad, because by definition they are not… super fights are “super”. They are fights the fans want to see. However the problem is, when you start pulling them out of thin air it can really water down the sport. Fighters jump rank to make a more exciting fight, or worse – come out of retirement, make a quick money grab and then fade right back into retirement and leave other fighters on the roster wondering,”what the hell just happened?”
BUT… this is not that. This is the fight the UFC needs in order to right the vessel. This is a good ol’ fashioned, big-time matchup between two incredibly well-deserving fighters.
Tony Ferguson is on a 10 fight win streak that stretches all the way back to 2012 when he lost by decision after breaking his forearm in the 2nd round of a fight against Michael Johnson. While Khabib has never lost a fight in his entire life, stretching all the way back to some youtube footage of him wrestling a bear as a kid.
Growing up in Dagestan looks… cool.
I know Khabib was just a child, but he is still undefeated now, so I give the bear credit. It did finished the round on top.
Not including the bear – Khabib is 25-0 and absolutely demolishing everyone he faces. If you need a quick dose of adrenaline just get your free month of FightPass and watch his last 2 fights against Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza. Looks like he learned a lot from training with bears because those fights are the absolute definition of a mauling. Don’t bother watching any of his other fights in the UFC either. They all look exactly the same.
In stark contrast to Khabib – Tony Ferguson is unorthodox and unpredictable. He’s the most creative fighter you will find in the UFC. His movements are like the erratic brush strokes of a master painter drunk off wine, at the first you think “what is he doing?” but by they end you are asking “how did he do that?”. Tony’s 10th planet submissions are a work of art, and his striking, both on the ground and on his feet, is something to behold. If you want a fight recommendation, there are a lot to choose from. Five out of his last six fights got “Fight of the Night” bonuses, but since him and Khabib do share some common opponents, I would suggest also checking out his match against Edson Barboza (Poor Edson). That fight is a great example of some of Tony’s awkward attacking styles.
All that being said, I cannot stress enough how satisfying it is that both of these fighters FOUGHT their way to be in this position. Tony might be currently holding the interim belt, but we all know, this is the fight that was meant for that title once Conor went away. No one jumped rank to get here. No one sat on the sidelines waiting for a weaker opponent. No one stumbled along the way. They fought who was in front of them and worked their way up the ladder. On April 7th at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, NY we will finally get to taste what’s been stewing in the slow-cooker of the lightweight division for the last 2-3 years. My guess is it’s an all-time classic.
Preview and Predictions to come on fight week.