Ali Abdel-Aziz believes it will be a long night for Ferguson, who puts his interim lightweight title on the line against Nurmagomedov in a matchup that will be more than a year in the making. The winner will be crowned the undisputed champion, per the UFC, though Conor McGregor still holds the lightweight belt.
“I feel sorry for Tony Ferguson, because on April 7, Tony Ferguson is probably never gonna fight again,” Abel-Aziz said. “I’m concerned for his well-being, I’m serious. I’m not just saying that to promote a fight. I’m concerned for him. I’m hearing some reports — and I respect Eddie Bravo, he’s a legend — I’m hearing that he’d accept, he’d be more than happy for Khabib to take him down. And I’ll tell you something … he’s not gonna be a normal human being. He’ll be in trouble. Because if he accepts takedown from Khabib and he will take him down, he will disfigure his whole entire face.”
Nurmagomedov is coming off a dominant, unanimous decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 last month. The Dagestani fighter has never lost a pro MMA fight and rarely been challenged. He was supposed to face Ferguson at UFC 209 in March 2017, but had to be rushed to the hospital the day before the scheduled bout due to a bad weight cut.
“It’s gonna be brutal, it’s gonna be ugly, it’s gonna be bloody,” Abdel-Aziz said. “Because Khabib was very nice to Barboza, he was very nice to Michael Johnson. But I’m telling you something. One thing that Khabib is not gonna do, he’s not gonna be nice to Tony Ferguson. My prediction: Tony Ferguson will probably need to take two years off or maybe not come back after this fight.”
Abdel-Aziz said the UFC hasn’t stripped McGregor and made Ferguson the undisputed champion yet, because of his and Nurmagomedov’s team’s fears about what could happen if the UFC 223 fight doesn’t come to fruition. Abdel-Aziz noted that Ferguson and McGregor have the same manager — Audie Attar — and he doesn’t want Nurmagomedov getting skipped over. Ferguson, Abdel-Aziz believes, is getting the short end of the stick right now from all parties.
“Tony Ferguson is getting played left and right,” Abdel-Aziz said. “I kind of feel bad for Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson is getting played. He is — by every body. By the UFC, by his team, by every body. He’s getting played.”
It will be a rough outing for him April 7, though, Abdel-Aziz believes. Nurmagomedov is getting better working with his father Abdulmanap.
“The stuff they’re working on — they send me the video every night — f*cking scary, man,” Abdel-Aziz said. “I’m concerned about Tony Ferguson, because I think Tony Ferguson is a nice guy.
“I’m concerned — again, one more time — I really mean it. I’m concerned with Tony Ferguson’s health. He will not be the same. He might not fight again.”