The history between Khabib and Ferguson
Khabib vs Tony Ferguson is a fight between the champion and the number one contender according to UFC rankings, and this is certainly how the dedicated fans feel about it. This is a long anticipated fight; not just in recent years but all the way back since 2015.
Tony had made a name for himself when he won The Ultimate Fighter 13 back in 2011, a show where MMA fighters compete for a shot in the UFC.
By 2015, Tony was scheduled to fight Khabib in the live event of TUF 22 (not as contenders, but as a regular UFC fight). Two months before the fight was set to take place, Khabib pulled out with an injury. Since then, Khabib and Tony have been scheduled to fight another 3 times, and all 3 have fallen through. Finally, though, it looks like the fight will happen — but fans around the world await with bated breath.
Top of their game
Both fighters have incredible incredible records. Tony is on an 11-fight win streak, and has 25 pro wins to his name with only 3 losses. 12 of those were won by TKO, and 11 by submission. In his previous six fights, Tony defeated the likes of Barboza, Dos Anjos, Lee, Pettis and Cerrone.
Rather unbelievably, Khabib’s record is even better. In fact, Khabib’s record is perhaps the most impressive in UFC history. The Russian is on a 28-fight win streak, having never lost a pro fight. In this time, Khabib has beaten the likes of Barboza, Poirer, Doj Anjos and Conor McGregor.
It appears that both fighters are in their prime, and are in a time of incredible momentum. This is the absolute best time for these two fighters to go to the octagon, which is a testament to the UFC for creating good matchups. This is somewhat different to boxing, which has notoriously hand-picked fights for fighters and avoided match ups between the number 1 and 2 fighters.
Lastly, it’s not just pure skill and results which makes this an incredible fight. Both have very distinct personalities. Khabib, with Dagestan heritage, has an incredibly motivated, fierce and religion-centered personality. Khabib is a very serious character, with an intimidating manner. Tony on the other hand is an antidote to this — he is full of style and eccentricism. Tony will show up to press conferences with earphones, sunglasses and a dossier of one-liners.
Style match up
Like their personalities, their fighting styles are polar opposites too — and every great UFC fight comes from a good style matchup. Whilst both have wrestling backgrounds, they have grown into completely disparate fighters. Khabib has stuck very rigidly to his wrestling background. He trains extremely hard and focuses on grappling opponents to the ground. With the likes of Daniel Cormier saying how profoundly strong Khabib’s ground game is in training, this is Khabib’s comfort zone and he likes to stay within it — and bring his opponents in it. Relentlessly.
Tony on the other hand lets his personality dictate his fighting style. He has alternative views, innovative training methods and an unpredictable fighting style. He’s much more mobile than Khabib, with effective takedown defence to counter the Russian. Tony is also a blackbelt in Jiu Jitsu under flat-earther Eddie Bravo, the founder of 10th Planet. The unconventional techniques of Tony might be something that Khabib’s traditional style is not used to.
Conor McGregor is backup
The only other person that the world desperately would like to see fight Khabib is Conor McGregor, the Irish fighter that claims to have grown a new maturity since making his comeback. Due to the previous failures of the Tony-Khabib planned fights, the official backup for this April fixture is none other than Dublin’s Conor McGregor.
Whether Conor is new and improved is yet to be seen, but there is bad blood between him and Khabib. The two were centre of many controversies, with highly offensive words being exchanged out of the octagon as well as Conor infamously and disgracefully throwing the trolley into the bus window and injuring fighters inside. The first time around, Khabib defeated Conor. Whilst Khabib would certainly be the bookies’ favourite the second time around, Conor always poses a threat due to his improvised striking power and ability.
Alternatively, if Khabib dropped out, a Tony-Conor fight would be riveting for both hardcore fans and casual fans. The high-level striking, intensity and unique fighting methods of both fighters would put on a great show whatever the outcome would be.