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Morning Report: Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov calls Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson ‘the most important fight in UFC history’

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Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Though it is still several months away, the hype for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is already starting to get underway.

Up to this point, Khabib vs. Tony has been the most snakebitten fight in MMA history. Four times the two have been set to face each other and four times the bout has fallen through, twice due to Khabib withdrawing and twice due to Ferguson withdrawing. Now, for the fifth time the UFC has scheduled the elusive bout, for the main event of UFC 249, and should nothing intervene this time and the fight actually does take place, Khabib’s father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, believes it will be the most important fight in the history of the UFC.

“Because this isn’t the first attempt, I think it is one of the most important events in this sport,” Abdulmanap told RT Sport recently. “It was planned four times and called off twice because of Khabib and twice because of Tony. Millions of fans are waiting for it. There’s never been anything like this in UFC history. It’s the most important fight in UFC history. It is important not only for me but for my republic, my country, and all our supporters.”

While most important is subjective, the fight certainly is unprecedented. Assuming everything goes according to plan, UFC 249 will mark the first time two fighters have met while sporting double-digit winning streaks in the organization. Both Ferguson and Khabib have won their last 12 fights in the UFC, streaks which put each of them in a tie for third, all time. This kind of thing could only happen because of the numerous interruptions to the fight, circumstances which are unlikely to manifest themselves again, with other top contenders.

But though the repeated delays of Ferguson vs. Khabib have been disheartening for MMA fans, it has proven useful for Nurmagomedov. Khabib and Tony were first set to face each other in December of 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, and in the four years since the bout was first proposed, Abdulmanap says his son has turned into a much more complete fighter than he was back then.

“Throughout all this time we were able to improve our skills in different aspects, especially striking technique,” Abdulmanap added. “We surprise [opponents] more and more each time. [Coach] Javier [Mendez] promises to surprise this time but Khabib won’t stray from his father’s plan.”

Abdulmanap’s plan will almost certainly feature liberal amounts of taking Ferguson down and punching him in the face; it’s the same plan that has carried Khabib to a perfect 28-0 record and the UFC lightweight title. But it’s a plan that may not work on the unorthodox and creative Ferguson. One does not get to a 12-fight winning streak in the best division in the sport idly, and Abdulmanap knows it. The elder Nurmagomedov says they know just how good Ferguson is and are preparing accordingly.

“First of all, he’s got good endurance, a good winning streak,” Abdulmanap concluded. “He’s been caught, but he finishes all his fights with submissions, cuts or technical knockouts. He has a good arsenal, he is a worthy opponent and we are preparing accordingly.”

UFC 249 is set to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on April 18, 2020.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


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