Back in October, Khabib Nurmagomedov calmly predicted the downward spiral of Tony Ferguson’s career. At the time, “El Cucuy” was five months removed from his five-round beating at the hands of Justin Gaethje and was preparing for a rebound against Charles Oliveira that December.
“Tony Ferguson’s time is finished. Now, he gonna come back, somebody gonna beat him again,” Khabib told Brett Okamoto. “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?”
As it turned out, “The Eagle’s” foreshadowing became a reality. Ferguson ended up getting outclassed by both Oliveira and Beneil Dariush consecutively and is now staring at a three-fight skid.
And based on what he’s seen so far, Nurmagomedov is foreseeing the same scenario with his other rival Conor McGregor.
“When I told you about Tony Ferguson he never gonna be same, how many fight he lose? Two fight,” Khabib said in a recent interview with ESPN. “He fight with Beneil, he fight with Charles, and these guys make him look like amateur. They sit on his mount all these fights. All rounds.
“This is not my opinion. This is what history show us. When you take, like, this damage, you never gonna be same. Never, ever.
“OK, if we talk about Conor… OK, last couple years, he’s not hungry. And now, what happen with his legs… like, never, ever. Never people come back and never gonna be people on same prime, twice.
“Prime come only one time. You gonna be on prime, after that, you gonna go down.”
Khabib says there are still fights out there that can make McGregor look like the world-beater that he once was. But against the current crop of elite competitors at 155 pounds? Highly unlikely.
“It depends you fight with who. If you gonna fight with Cowboy Cerrone, you gonna look good,” he said. “You gonna be like lion. But if you gonna fight, like, guys who on the top, who really best in the world like Dustin Poirier? This fight gonna show your level.
“OK, fight with Cowboy or like these fights, be lion and that’s it. Make money. This is smart. But if you wanna become champion, if you wanna fight like Beneil, Islam, Charles, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje… these guys lions. These guys gonna show your level. And what happened with him?”
When asked if “The Notorious” could reclaim UFC gold, Khabib had this answer.
“Without broken legs? Yes. But with broken legs? Never. Because he never gonna kick same,” he said. “Conor with this, what happened to his mind, legs, I don’t think.”
“When he come back, if he wanna come back, OK, he can fight one more time with Dustin Poirier… What UFC gonna do with him? Maybe he fight versus Nate? OK. But (against) both of them, I think he’s gonna lose.”
McGregor just dropped down two spots to number seven at the official rankings after UFC 264. The broken leg that led to his first-round TKO loss to Poirier has now sidelined him for the next six months.