This is no April Fools joke. Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov is off again.
With just under a week until a proposed clash for the Lightweight Championship, interim champion Tony Ferguson has pulled out of the fight after suffering a freak knee injury in a non-training related incident. After being held up for much of 2017 due to Conor McGregor’s absence from the cage, it looked like the Lightweight division was set to be delayed yet again. That is up until Featherweight champion Max Holloway answered the call.
Following consecutive TKO finishes against former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, Holloway has settled in nicely at the top of the Featherweight division as one of the UFC’s top pound for pound fighters. A fight against a bigger, stronger Khabib Nurmagomedov promises to pose several problems for the “Blessed” Hawaiian, and it’s somewhat of a shock to see Holloway accepting this fight on such short notice.
For Khabib, the matchup is an interesting one. While Holloway might be smaller than Khabib’s original opponent, Tony Ferguson, Holloway does almost everything better than Ferguson does. His striking is some of the best in the UFC, as evidenced by his stoppages over Aldo and Anthony Pettis, and his takedown defense is top notch. Holloway is a master of using his range to maintain distance and stay just out of reach of opponent’s shots, while simultaneously tagging them with counter punches as they come in.
The matchup will prove to be a very interesting one, as Khabib’s strategy of getting inside and looking for takedowns will play right into the strengths of Holloway. Whether or not Khabib is able to overwhelm the champion will determine the outcome of this fight.
With Brian Ortega guaranteed the next crack at the Featherweight strap, and Conor McGregor awaiting a return to the LW division, whoever wins between Khabib and Holloway will have plenty on their plate going forward.