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Ideas On a Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov Title Bout

Ideas On a Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov Title Bout


A brief exploration on why the Tony and Khabib fight makes sense.

It has been widely speculated that Tony Ferguson will be the next to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Title. There are a number of reasons this fight makes sense. First, Tony is the former Interim UFC Lightweight Champ. He did not lose the title in a fight but was instead stripped due to injury. He holds the most consecutive wins in UFC lightweight history.

Beyond status as former interim champion and impressive collection of wins, the fight also makes sense because of Tony’s grappling pedigree. Tony holds the rank of black belt under Eddie Bravo in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is a form of Jiu Jitsu that does not use the gi and leverages many non-traditional techniques. Many times the training focuses around submission only events instead of point based competition. What is even more impressive is that Eddie gave Tony his black belt. For a Jiu Jitsu practitioner there are few things as sacred as their belt. It is generally bad etiquette to touch someone else’s belt unless in a roll. Per Eddie’s post on twitter, “The day I got back to Jean Jacques Academy after 2003 ADCC, he gave me the black belt off his waist. Tonight I gave it to @tonyfergusonxt”.” Beyond the honor of receiving Eddie Bravo‘s black belt, Tony’s record is a testament to his submission ability. Out of his 24 wins, 8 are by submission.

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While it may be to Tony’s advantage to keep the fight standing, for the grappling community, it would be an interesting clash of styles to see Tony’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu against Khabib Nurmagomedov’ s Sambo. In addition to the UFC Lightweight Title, Khabib has the title of International Master of Sport in Sambo. There are two variations of Sambo: Sport and Combat. Both utilize a gi jacket. Sport Sambo has been characterized as similar to catch wresting.  It allows leg locks but does not allow choke holds. It primary focus is on throwing and submissions. Combat Sambo is similar to modern MMA with an emphasis on strikes and grappling.

As a side note, it may be interesting to explore why Sport Sambo allows leg locks but does not allow choke holds. That is in sharp contrast to many of more traditional views in the Jiu Jitsu community.

Ultimately, it is unclear if these two will enter the Octagon together. They were slated to fight four times in the past but all bouts were canceled due to injury. Also, Conor has called for a rematch. While it may make more sense academically for Tony and Khabib to fight it may more sense financially to see a rematch between Khabib and Conor.

Khabib and Tony is the fight grappling community and MMA aficionados deserve. Tony status as Former Interim Champion, impressive record and grappling pedigree make him the clear choice. Beyond that, it would be extremely interesting to see how Tony’s 10th Planet background matches up with Khabib’s Sambo pedigree.

What are your thoughts? Does the Tony Khabib fight make sense to you?

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