For 12 straight fights beginning in 2013, Tony Ferguson was an unstoppable man at lightweight. That win streak came crashing down at UFC 249 in May, when he ran into Justin Gaethje.
“El Cucuy” is still among the elite at 155 pounds. But for the division’s reigning king Khabib Nurmagomedov, the glory days might be over.
“Nobody can be same long time. Nobody. No Tony Ferguson, no Khabib. Nobody,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in a recent interview.
“And one day, someone’s gonna beat you, or something’s gonna happen. God doesn’t give nobody free power, reaction, mental, everything, in one level always. One day, it’s gonna go down. And his day come.
“Tony Ferguson’s time is finished. Now, he gonna come back, somebody gonna beat him again,” he continued. “I believe. Because when you take damage like this, you never gonna be same. Never ever. Even if you’re Tony Ferguson. He take too much damage. You see how he give up end of the five rounds?”
Khabib does think his long-time rival can still bounce back and get to the top of the mountain. But in order to do so, he is proposing one possible path.
“Tony Ferguson is great fighter. And right now, he have choice. He can come and jump to Fight Island and fight with Islam Makhachev,” he said.
“(Islam) have six win streak. He’s almost top ten, he have name. And why not? Why he don’t want to take this fight? UFC gonna give him good money, Ali Abdelaziz gonna give him $100K/$100K. And very good chance, fight with Islam Makhachev, and after that, maybe he can fight for the title. If he win. But I think his time is finished.”
Makhachev was originally scheduled to face former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 254, but a positive COVID test on the latter scrapped the said pairing.
As for Khabib, he is up against what many believe to be his toughest test to date in Justin Gaethje. The two will lock horns on October 24.