At UFC 259 this weekend Islam Makhachev had one of his best showings to date, as he rag-dolled Drew Dober en route to a second round arm-triangle choke finish. The win, which was reminiscent of performances put in be his famous training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov, extended the Dagestani’s win streak to seven fights.
Afterwards, at the post-fight press conference, Makhachev decided to call out a fighter who was a persistent thorn in his friend’s side; Tony Ferguson.
“My dream fight is Tony because we have some deal with him, like a couple years now,” said Makhachev (ht MMA Junkie). “He’s still, like, pressuring Khabib. I don’t understand this guy, but I want to just help him retire. He is old. His mind is a little bit crazy. That’s why I just want to help him.”
Ferguson and Numagomedov’s history is well known to anyone with more than a passing interest in MMA. Despite being matched up a handful of times their fight would never come to fruition. With Nurmagomedov appearing steadfast in his decision to retire from the sport, it seems as though Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson will remain one of the greatest fights to never happen.
Makhachev said he wants to take Nurmagomedov’s place in that match-up and that, by doing so, he hopes to show that his (and Nurmagomedov’s) style of fighting is too much for El Cucuy.
“I just want to show people how Khabib would take him down, make him tired, make him tap,” he said. “Everybody talks like Tony is a hard fight for Khabib, but I never think like that because Khabib’s wrestling and grappling is a different level. Nobody has it like that.”
“Tony is a very good fighter because he finished a lot of guys,” continued Makhachev. “That’s why I just want to check my skills, and I know I can finish him.
“Honestly, I just want to fight with somebody from the top-five, but I know all the guys are busy. Some guys have fights like this, but I know Tony is now free. That’s why I asked him. Let’s make this happen.”
Makhachev has been plying his trade in the UFC since 2015. In his debut he submitted Leo Kuntz. Then, in his second fight in the promotion, he was KO’d by Adriano Martins. That loss was the first and only defeat of Makhachev’s career.
After that setback, Makhachev beat Chris Wade, Nik Lentz, Gleison Tibau, Kajan Johnson, Arman Tsarukyan and Davi Ramos. The win over Dober advanced his overall record to 19-1.
Ferguson is currently on the only losing streak of his 30 fight career. Last time out, at UFC 256 in December 2020, he lost to Charles Oliveira. Before that he was TKO’d by Justin Gaethje (who was a late replacement for Nurmagomedov).
Before becoming unstuck versus Gaethje, Ferguson was riding a 12 fight winning streak that included victories over Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee and Rafael dos Anjos.