UFC 223: Is Tony Ferguson Thinking Submission Win? Khabib Nurmagomedov Says Think Again

Nurmagomedov UFC 223
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia reacts against Michael Johnson of the United States in their lightweight bout during the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images )

It’s no secret that Tony Ferguson has a nasty guard and some sneaky chokes, but if “El Cucuy” is thinking he’s going to submit Khabib Nurmagomedov, the latter says think again.

The lightweights will battle in the headliner of UFC 223, which will take place next Saturday on April 7th. In hardcore fans circles, the bout is one of the most highly, anticipated contests in a while, due to the skills of both men.

One of the more interesting angles regarding the fight, is the fact that Ferguson is such a dangerous grappler, making some wonder whether Nurmagomedov’s top game will be as dominant as usual. But, during a recent media call to promote the card, “The Eagle” had these words for Ferguson (quote via MMA Fighting):

“[As a] fighter, of course I do not underestimate him. I respect him as a fighter. He has very good skills. When I’m preparing I think it’s gonna be the hardest fight of my life, this is what I’m thinking.”

“This is an MMA fight. This is not grappling or striking — this is an MMA fight. We have a plan and we’ve worked on this. When the cage door closes I’m going to listen to my coaches, my corners and follow my plan,” Nurmagomedov said, while discussing what might happen, if he can’t get Ferguson down. “This is why this fight is so interesting because nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

“All my life, nobody make me tap — nobody. At amateur, training…it doesn’t matter…I never get tired and I never tap.”

Yup. This is one of the big reasons why the fight’s so fascinating. Will Nurmagomedov be able to take Ferguson down? And if he does, will “El Cucuy” negate his ground-and-pound with submission attempts and elbows from the bottom? Or, will Nurmagomedov continue to cruise from the top position? Like we’ve seen so many times before.

Ferguson is coming off a submission win over Kevin Lee in October, who, it should be noted, is a pretty, pretty good wrestler and grappler in his own right. But. Lee was battling a staph infection heading into the bout, and most would agree that his top game is not in the same tier as Nurmagomedov’s.

UFC 223 will take place in Brooklyn, New York.