Tony Ferguson believes he’s already in Khabib Nurmagomedov’s head, but is it possible for ‘The Eagle’ to get inside ‘El Cucuy’s’ head once the cage door closes on April 18?
According to former referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy, no.
Speaking on a recent episode of Weighing In, co-podcast host McCarthy said it will be impossible for Nurmagomedov to break Ferguson at UFC 249.
“Khabib needs to fight a specific fight to beat Tony Ferguson,” McCarthy said, per The Body Lock MMA’s Abhinav Kini. “And he needs to be in that mindset of ‘I will put myself in these positions that you say you’re comfortable with and I’m going to make you uncomfortable with what you think you’re comfortable with.’ That’s where I think Khabib needs to put this fight for him to grind out a fight against Tony because he is not going to physically break Tony.
“It’s not going to happen. Tony does not have that in his head. You are not going to push him past that cliff as far as exercise output in that he gets exhausted — that’s not going to happen. And you are mentally not going to break him. Khabib can talk to Tony all he wants and just realize that every word you say will be two words coming back in the opposite from Tony talking back to you. So don’t get into this whole thing of ‘I want to mentally break’ — you’re not going to do that. There are those guys. But this guy just does not break.”
McCarthy, who ended his career as a referee to embark on a commentating gig with Bellator, went on to state that Khabib needs to incorporate a very specific gameplan against Ferguson and advised the undefeated UFC lightweight champion to remain very disciplined on the ground.
“…In this camp, Khabib has got to work on head position,” McCarthy added. “His head needs to center line and up. From that sternum to that chin, that’s where your head is at. When it starts to go either side, he’s going to have a problem.
“If he is in guard, he needs to be careful of keeping his head in that sternum. Everything is depending upon your position. But if you’re against the cage, in the standup clinch, don’t stick your head to the left or right. I want your head center line, into his chin up. Don’t give him that side to side.”
Khabib vs. Ferguson is scheduled to take place next year, April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.