Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov TIMELINE
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What seemed like just another day during this time of global uncertainty ended with one of this sport’s most bizarre running jokes once again manifesting itself in reality. Five separate failures has been enough to see this elusive lightweight clash branded as ‘cursed’ but thankfully, the UFC seem as determined as ever to make Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson happen before all is said and done. And why wouldn’t they?
The rivalry and dynamic that exists between these two men has led some to call this clash the single greatest matchup in UFC history and personally, I think there’s a lot of merit to that position.
I realize it’s easy to scoff at the idea that Khabib and Tony could be measured up against some of the clashes of years gone by but through the UFC’s numerous failed attempts at getting these two guys into the cage together, this pairing has grown into something completely unique.
For all the grudge matches, super-fights, and cross-divisional skirmishes we’ve witnessed over the years, never before have two fighters with such tremendous resumés inhabited the same division like this.
Both men hold twelve-fight active win-streaks. And both never will never truly receive their dues until the other has been disposed of. It’s a two-man race that evokes memories of Hagler, Hearns, Duran, Leonard and the golden era of boxing’s middleweight division.
Because truth be told, just like in boxing at times, the UFC’s lightweight division has two champions. How can it not?
Sure, Khabib is the man sitting on the throne, but what other top contender can boast a streak of victories like El Cucuy? Technicalities aside, 155lbs has two champions in my eyes – two men who stand as polar opposites, and the perfect foil to the other. While Khabib is undoubtedly the game’s greatest and most dominant master in the art of control, Tony revels in the chaos that comes from a lack of it.
Both men are among the very best at breaking their adversary’s spirit and yet, their approaches could not be any more different. Nurmagomedov’s growing notoriety has only served to help his cause as fighters enter the fray so concerned about his groundwork that they mismanage the emphasis they place on their own strengths.
He breaks down his foes through their greatest fears and when he’s able to do so seemingly without breaking a sweat, he saps morale like few others can. Ferguson, on the other hand, essentially comes away with the same result – but it is the steps he takes in reaching that end goal that make him what he is. A force of pure creative energy that truly is redefining the notion of weaponizing of pace – Tony actively seeks out deep water to prove exactly how well he can swim.
Khabib is called one-dimensional, Tony is branded as reckless.
Will The Eagle be able to put a cork on the storm in a bottle that is El Cucuy?
Or will Ferguson’s disruption of all rhythm and expectation catch Nurmagomedov out?
With both guys riding matching twelve-fight win-streaks in one of the deepest and strongest divisional rosters we’ve ever seen, I think it’s fair to say that this fight is now bigger than ever.
It might take six attempts in the end and who knows, it might take more. But this fight is not cursed – for curses simply do not exist.
And when these two men finally do stand face-to-face with naught but a referee and two pairs of 4oz gloves along with them, every failure and every disappointment that came before it will all pay off.
In summary, this is the greatest matchup in UFC history, folks.
I did attempt to allow myself to pay respect to the finest fights that the promotion has gifted us with over the years, I really did.
Legends have collided and numerous stars have been born over the course of twenty-five minutes or less inside that octagon and yet, nothing can measure up to this perfect pairing – this singularly peculiar story that has somehow played out at the highest levels over half a decade.
Whether we will get our resolution remains to be seen, but as things stand, this matchup has been elevated far beyond what anyone could have thought possible when the UFC first pushed for it to happen back in 2015.
Fingers crossed we’re looking at sixth-time-lucky.
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