Report: UFC lightweight elite set to clash as McGregor vs. Poirier II and Khabib vs. Ferguson targeted

It seems 2019 will bring some clarity to the very top of the UFC lightweight rankings with promotion president, Dana White eyeing two high profile clashes among the top three contenders. Continue reading “Report: UFC lightweight elite set to clash as McGregor vs. Poirier II and Khabib vs. Ferguson targeted”

In-depth: UFC 229 – The fight and the fallout

On October 6th, Khabib Nurmagomedov exacted a one-sided beating of Conor McGregor over four rounds to make his premier defence of the lightweight championship, but unfortunately, it’s the Dagestani’s actions after Herb Dean peeled him off McGregor that will forever take away from his incredible performance. I will break down the fight specifics, and then detail the confirmed events after the final bell, and what implications and next steps will be on the cards.

The Fight

McGregor, in my opinion, looked almost too tentative to pull the trigger on Khabib. When he wasn’t on his butt at the fence, it was clear he was obviously wary of Nurmagomedov’s incredible wrestling pedigree. However, it was Conor who landed the first real shot of the bout, circling Khabib onto a left hand in the opening seconds. An early, low single dive from Khabib seen him lock onto Conor’s ankle to counteract any immediate danger. McGregor initially defended well, keeping his balance but Khabib eventually elevated his leg and scored his first takedown after scuttling to the fence. Conor was initially controlling the posture of Khabib to prevent his devastating ground and pound. Khabib spent the remainder of the round in Conor’s half guard, with the Dubliner unable to scramble as expected by many.

Conor looked a tad wild with his striking at the beginning of the second, and his usual creative movement was scarce. After a brief exchange between the two, Conor searched for that stiff uppercut implemented against Nate Diaz in their first meeting, but Khabib managed to evade the shot, forcing Conor to the mat for the second time courtesy of a high crotch single leg.

Conor 6

Real trouble set in once again for Conor, as Khabib, now working from a stacked guard, began raining down heavy shots on his opponent forcing him to give up his guard momentarily. Herb Dean watched closely as Conor began to cover up with the finish in sight. Khabib then transitioned to half guard once more, looking to step over into side control where he ate an illegal knee from the Irishman. Pointing out the illegal shot to Dean, the renowned referee called for the action to continue.

The second round again went in Khabib’s favour based on activity, with Conor sneering after defending a single leg before the klaxon.

The third round approached with Khabib bizarrely electing to stand with Conor for the opening exchanges. Conor looked incredibly tentative to throw as Khabib kept inside the pocket where Conor stuffed a double leg attempt before landing an elbow and a knee to the body in the resulting clinch.

Conor 5

Conor was once again forced to defend against the fence, doing so admirably and again found a home for a knee to the body. Khabib then ate an uppercut, showing a granite chin and calling Conor forward after landing a left hand of his own upstairs. Forced to the ground for a moment via an outside trip, Conor eventually got back to his feet and scored another illegal shot, this time landing to the back of Khabib’s head.

Khabib’s decision to stand with the counter striker, ultimately seen his thirty round’s of dominance snapped as McGregor took the third on all three scorecards.

Conor started the fourth (and soon to be fight-ending round) on the front foot, forcing Khabib onto a left hand from the Dubliner. Khabib was certainly affected by those stabbing teep kicks to the solar plexus by McGregor, finding his target early in the fourth, but another solid entry from the Sambo specialist resulted in yet another demoralizing takedown against McGregor.

conor-mcgregor-khabib

Unable to find a way under the neck, Khabib tightened a neck crank with McGregor tapping. Eventually releasing after some prying from Herb Dean, Khabib began talking to a seated McGregor…

The Fallout

After his back and forth with Conor, Khabib fired his mouthpiece towards the fence where McGregor’s corner was seated as he was insulted by McGregor’s BJJ partner, Dillon Danis. The Russian then scaled the Octagon and leaped toward the former Marcelo Garcia prodigy, with a scuffle breaking out among the pair.

Conor 7

Rising back to his feet, McGregor attempted to follow suit and hopped onto the Octagon fence where he was restrained by security, before throwing a left hand at Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Conor then found himself at odds with two more members of the Nurmagomedov camp as an unknown assailant made an attempt to confront the Dubliner, but was met with a left hand.

During this exchange, UFC Featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov made his way over the fence and landed a couple of shots to the back of a defenceless McGregor, who was then eventually tackled by the second member of Team Khabib. Coach John Kavanagh managed to cause some separation.

Khabib’s fellow AKA members, Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier looked to defuse the delicate situation with Khabib, who was now demanding his UFC lightweight championship, something promotion president Dana White refused to avoid any further fracas within the hatred and alcohol-fuelled Vegas crowd. In the meantime, McGregor was escorted out of the Octagon and backstage, opting to miss the post-fight interview.

Conor 3

Khabib eventually left the cage under high-security scrutiny, although without his title with Dana White expecting a raining of objects into the Octagon if the Dagestani was presented with the title, especially due to the large Irish contingency. Instead, Bruce Buffer announced the official decision as the crowd and trio of commentators tried to wrap their head’s around what they had just witnessed.

The Aftermatch and Opinion

As of Monday, Khabib’s cheque has been frozen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while Conor has been paid his fight purse in full. Three members from Nurmagomedov’s entourage have been arrested and subsequently released after McGregor elected against pressing charges.

However, the NSAC are currently reviewing footage of the incident inside the T-Mobile Arena with a strict punishment expected to be trashed down to Nurmagomedov, particularly after the commission governor was escorted from the building.

Going off my gut feeling, I believe the commission will issue Khabib with some sort of ban and financial sting. A VISA to enter the United States, the home of his occupation has been called into question, with many wondering if the Russian will have his current one revoked or will struggle to receive one in the future.

On the other hand, I fully expect Khabib to be stripped of his lightweight crown – disappointing considering his spur of the moment post-fight antics may have just cost him his well-deserved legacy and the accolade he strived since his Octagon bow.

The next legitimate contender emerged from the fold on Saturday night as well as the former interim king, Tony Ferguson sliced up Anthony Pettis to extend his win streak to eleven straight fights. With a spine-tingling and fight of the night winning performance that had the Vegas masses on their feet, it would be difficult to refuse “El Cucuy” a legitimate shot at the official strap. He will be no doubt held in high regard by the UFC brass after such a positive performance on the opposite side of the UFC 229 spectrum. Don’t be surprised if the UFC book Ferguson vs. McGregor for a vacant title if Khabib gets stripped, a dire straits of a matchup for Conor in my opinion.

tony-ferguson-ufc-229

At this stage in his career, with two losses in his last four Octagon appearances, a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz regardless of the Stockton son’s outcome against Dustin Poirier at MSG in November, not only offers a considerable paycheck, a chance for Conor to ignite the fire that once was before the Mayweather meeting. But not to mention, it would offer also a safer route to UFC immortality.

On reflection, the UFC was undoubtedly dragged through the mud by the incident after the UFC 229 main event. On arguably their biggest stage yet, the promotion may have lost a chunk of hard-earned legitimacy on the world stage, and will feel a dent in the commodity for their lightweight stars should the commission follow through with the strictest punishments possible. In a year of struggle for star power, it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out.

How do you think this will end? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?..

Opinion: Is Tony Ferguson The Real Winner Following Last Night’s Antics?

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson showed the world again last night that he is one of the very best in the world and cemented himself as one of the greatest lightweights in the game after beating Anthony Pettis via TKO (corner stoppage). Ferguson’s dominant performance was made even more impressive as just six months prior he underwent major knee surgery which usually takes a minimum of 10 months to heal fully. As always, “El Cucuy” was very complimentary of his opposing lightweights when he said: ” Where you at McNugget’s you f*****g piece of s**t?” before more pleasantries were exchanged.

Following the main event where Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Conor McGregor, Khabib proceeded to leap out of the cage and attack Dillon Danis (a teammate of McGregor’s) making his future inside the UFC unclear. It may be Ferguson who comes out of all this smelling of roses as he was the UFC interim lightweight champion before being stripped due to an injury forcing him out of the fight with the champion. But “El Cucuy” is unbeaten in 11 outing’s and consistently performs beyond expectations.

Ferguson is one of the more deserving fighters in the UFC for a title shot, but with everything so unclear at the moment at the top of the lightweight division, we will have to wait and see if the American gets the shot he desires.

So what are the possible outcomes for Ferguson?

1. Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov

The more logical outcome would be for the UFC to book Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov. However, if the Nevada State Athletic Commission were to ban the Russian the UFC may strip him leaving the prospect of this fight in jeopardy.

2. Ferguson vs McGregor

Should the UFC strip Nurmagomedov, they may book Ferguson vs McGregor for the vacant title. The two have a certain amount of hatred for each other so the fight would sell well and would make the best out of a bad situation.

3. Ferguson vs Diaz/Poirier winner

The ranked outside option would be if Nurmagomedov was stripped and Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier move into the main event spot at UFC 230 and fight for the vacant belt. This is an option as some mud has been thrown at the UFC for booking the woman’s flyweight title fight at the main event, after promising something huge. Diaz vs Poirier for the belt would fit the bill, with Ferguson waiting patiently for the winner.

So the future of “El Cucuy” is unclear at this time, but I’m sure whatever is in store for the 34-year-old will be special, and Ferguson could well end up as the king at 155lbs!

Ryan Cambridge

Opinion: Ferguson vs. Pettis – What Will Go Down?

The stacked card what is UFC 229 not only features arguably the biggest main event in UFC history as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor finally throw leather, but another pair of stud title challengers at 155lbs will meet in the co-headliner. Grappling ace Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson returns from his April knee injury against exciting striking specialist Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis.

Looking to add another notch to his incredible ten-fight win streak, longtime division mainstay, Ferguson secured an interim crown against the dangerous Kevin Lee in his most recent UFC outing. After slapping a triangle on Lee, Ferguson earned a unification clash for the vacant championship against Khabib at UFC 223. Unfortunately, this was not to come to fruition as Ferguson tore his LCL after tripping over a monitor cable whilst carrying out media obligations ahead of his Barclays Centre appearance.

fergy

On the other hand, after enduring the toughest stint of his professional mixed-martial-arts career in recent years, one-time WEC and UFC Lightweight kingpin Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis recently returned to winning ways with an eye-catching triangle armbar victory over Michael Chiesa.

The Roufusport product has an immense, often overlooked Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base, but in fights alongside Joe Lauzon, Danny Castillo and veteran ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, the Milwaukee native used his sublime Taekwondo ability to dispatch the trio. Both Pettis brothers feature at UFC 229, with younger sibling, Sergio Pettis meeting Brazil’s Jussier Formiga in an important flyweight three-rounder.

Pettis

Despite Ferguson’s tendency to fight “long” and stick with a lengthy jab used in the Rafael dos Anjos fight, I believe “Showtime” may hold the trump card in any striking exchanges, particularly in the pocket. Pettis is arguably the more creative and dynamic between the pair with a wide array of kicking techniques in his arsenal.

One thing Ferguson will bring on Saturday night is his constant offensive pressure and long combinations. While both possess a resounding offensive grappling background, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu protege Ferguson holds a wicked guard.

Bravo

Another posing question in this one is the current condition of Ferguson’s knee. Returning for the first time since April, I’d imagine Pettis to target calf kicks, particularly on the inside to buckle Ferguson’s recently healed knee, united with the incorporation of oblique kicks which will hyperextend and eventually halt forward pressure from the Oxnard native.

I think Pettis manages to get the job done against Tony and continue his resurgence to a potential second title tilt.

Anthony Pettis via split decision.

Report: Tony Ferguson declares himself officially on standby as replacement for McGregor vs Khabib

Tony Ferguson answered questions in a media scrum on Tuesday at the UFC Performance Institue, including questions regarding potential UFC 229 matches between Connor Mcgrergor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as his own match up against Anthony Pettis.

Continue reading “Report: Tony Ferguson declares himself officially on standby as replacement for McGregor vs Khabib”

News: Tony Ferguson is back in action at UFC 229

In the calm before the storm, ‘El Cucuy’ prepares for ‘Showtime’ on the blockbuster card taking place in Las Vegas.

Steven Marrocco has revealed yet another addition to the UFC 229 fight card. Tony Ferguson returns with a clean bill of health against a rebounding Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who is coming off a Round 2 submission win over Michael Chiesa. Hoping to climb back up the rankings, he faces his toughest opponent yet.

Continue reading “News: Tony Ferguson is back in action at UFC 229”

News: Conor McGregor responds to UFC 223 main event change

It’s taken almost 24 hours but the inevitable has happened – Conor Mcgregor has finally weighed in with his thoughts on Tony Ferguson pulling out of his planned UFC 223 title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

It should come as little surprise to anyone familiar with the Irishman’s theatrics that he hasn’t been subtle in giving his opinion on the situation.

Dana White once again confirmed that the UFC 223 main event, now between featherweight champ Max Holloway and Khabib, will be for the “official” lightweight title. White has insisted numerous times that McGregor will be stripped of the undisputed lightweight championship as soon as the main event officially begins.

McGregor is expected to be present at the Barclaycard Arena in Brooklyn for the fight with long time friend and team mate Artem Lobov fighting on the preliminary card. Prior to the main event change there had been speculation of McGregor confronting the winner in the octagon, setting up a fight later this year.

News: Ferguson out, Holloway in at UFC 223 – Reactions

Sunday April 1st 2018. April Fools Day. A day where almost every MMA fan will have seen at least one post from someone joking that the Ferguson vs Khabib fight had been cancelled for one reason or another. How we all laughed. Then, later that evening, the announcement came.

Tony Ferguson was injured.

He’s been pulled from the card.

This is not an April Fools joke.

No, seriously.

Fans were shocked and frustrated in equal measure. This is the fourth time we’ve been promised this fight and the fourth time it’s been snatched from our grasp. It’s the fight equivillent of the Loch Ness Monster. Destined to always be talked about, but never to be seen.

It is some consolation that we still have an excellent main event taking place. Reigning featherweight king Max Holloway will be stepping up a division on just six days notice to take on the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.

It was a moment Holloway predicted at the UFC 222/223 press conference in January. Dana White was asked if he would have Eddie Alvarez or someone else lined up incase one of Ferguson or Khabib didn’t make it to the octagon. Holloway immediately piped up claiming he would be more than happy to step in should either fighter be unable to fulfil their contract.

It seems Holloway is as good as his word, taking the fight at just six days notice.

Ferguson posted the following message on his instagram account confirming the news and apologising to all involved.

Despite the previous failed attempts to have the two lightweights meet, it seemed like this time, at last, we would finally get to see the fight we were promised.

Fans, media and fighters all around the world took to social media when they heard the news. Here are some of the highlights.

https://twitter.com/MikeBohnMMA/status/980598902716903424?s=19