The Eagle versus the Mythical Ghost Monster

Photo Credit: Zuffa LLC / Contributor

Written By: MMA with TOMMY V.

(Thu, February 16, 2017)– In what sounds like a 1960’s horror flick, the Eagle versus the Mythical Ghost Monster is widely anticipated and expected to be an incredibly entertaining fight.

Known as ‘The Eagle,’ Khabib Nurmagomedov was born in the village of Kirovaul in the Kizilyurtovsky District of Dagestan Russia. He is a two time combat Sambo World Champion and a black belt in judo. Khabib’s interest in martial arts began at a young age while watching students practice in a building his father had converted into a gym. He entered the competitive sport of professional MMA in September of 2008 at the age of twenty years old. ‘The Eagle’ took flight putting together a 16 – 0 professional record and landed in the Ultra Fighting Championship, the summit of the MMA world.

Nurmagomedov made his Ultra Fighting Championship debut in January of 2012 against Karmal Shalorus. The then twenty-three year old Nurmagomedov showed impressive ground and pound against the thirty-nine year old Shalorus. Nurmagomedov won the fight in the third round with a rear naked choke submission.

Nurmagomedov moved on to face Gleison Tibau in July of 2012 at UFC 148. Nurmagomedov won by way of unanimous decision in a fight that some critics saw as being considerably closer.

The Russian Nurmagomedov continued up the UFC lightweight ladder. In January of 2013 Nurmagomedov won via knockout over Thiago Tavares in the first round.

In May of 2013 at UFC 160 Nurmagomedov gained a unanimous decision victory against Abel Trujillo.

Four months later Nurmagomedov fought Pat Healy in September of 2013 at UFC 165. Healy was considered the tenth ranked contender in the UFC lightweight division at the time. Despite Healy’s four inch reach advantage, Nurmagomedov was able to dominate the fight and win a convincing unanimous decision.

Nurmagomedov’s next opponent was Rafael Dos Anjos. Many believed Dos Anjos would be Khabib’s biggest test to date in the UFC. Nurmagomedov won a dominating unanimous decision despite the high level experience of Rafael Dos Anjos.
Nurmagomedov controlled the fight with his strength and exceptional grappling ability.

Nurmagomedov had produced six straight wins in the UFC and few, if any, could deny the fact he was a real deal top ten UFC lightweight contender. His extremely aggressive wrestling style was fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the UFC lightweight division. His world class grappling skills began to capture more of the UFC spotlight.

Nurmagomedov was set to lockup with Donald Cerrone on September 27, 2014, at UFC 178. It looked to be a big match up, but dissolved quickly with the announcement that Nurmagomedov had suffered a knee injury. Months later the plans for the match against Cerrone went back into motion. Nurmagomedov was expected to fight ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in May of 2015, at UFC 187. Shortly before the bout Nurmagomedov disappointedly pulled out once again due to another knee injury. Donald Cerrone went on to face John Makdessi who was found as a late replacement.

Despite the plague of injuries, Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson in December of 2015 at the Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale. Once again injuries where said to be the reason Nurmagomedov could not commit to the match. Nurmagomedov was replaced by Edson Barboza who provided a formidable challenge for Ferguson.

Ferguson and Barboza delivered an explosive fight. The two top ten contenders gave a gutsy performance in a tough and hard fought fight.

It was a bloody fight as both combatants opened deep cuts on one another with heavy elbows. Barboza showed the better boxing, but Ferguson matched him strike for strike. Despite losing a point in the first round due to an illegal kick, Ferguson displayed his innovation and amazing jujitsu techniques by ending it in the second round with a sudden darce choke submission. He demonstrated he was a high level striker with devastating jujitsu. Ferguson was a true top contender.

It seemed injuries had slowed Nurmagomedov’s rise to the top of the UFC lightweight division. The Ferguson fight was rescheduled to April 16, 2016. Less then two weeks before the contest Ferguson withdrew from the fight. Ferguson explained the pullout was due to health issues.

Nurmagomedov was given Derrell Horcher as a replacement. Horcher took the fight on a nine days notice. It would be Horcher’s UFC debut. The fight was set at a catch weight of 160 lb.

Horcher was an obvious underdog but did manage to give a gamey effort in the first round. In the second round Nurmagomedov closed in and overpowered Horcher with brutal grappling and crushing ground and pound. Nurmagomedov’s impressive offense forced the referee to declare a technical knockout and ended the fight in the second round.

Several months after his win over UFC newcomer Horcher, Nurmagomedov was offered a fight with Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson. This would be his next big test in the UFC cage. Johnson was a top quality UFC lightweight. The fight was set for November 12, 2016 at UFC 205. It looked to be an interesting match up considering Johnson had defeated Ferguson four years earlier by way of unanimous decision.

Nurmagomedov displayed an amazing performance against Johnson. ‘The Eagle’ proved he was a true UFC number one ranked lightweight contender. Nurmagomedov dominated the fight with his tremendous grappling. He pummeled Johnson with furious intensity. Khabib unloaded with smashing ground and pound. Michael Johnson did land a punch that seemingly dazed Khabib momentarily. However Johnson quickly wilted under the Russian’s consuming offensive attack. The battered and beaten Johnson submitted in the third round.

On March 4, 2017 at UFC 209 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov will square off against Anthony Armand ‘Tony’ Ferguson AKA ‘El Cucuy’ for the UFC Lightweight interim championship. It looks to be an epic contest. Nurmagomedov enters the cage with an undefeated professional record and the current holder of the number one ranking in the UFC lightweight division. With him comes a wrestling force that has taken the UFC lightweight division by storm. Khabib’s ability to control and dominate an opponent with leverage and strength has captured the attention of the MMA world.

It takes two to rumble and Tony Ferguson is the other half of what looks to be an exciting and action packed fight. Ferguson grew up in Muskegon, Michigan. He is a three time all-state selection in wrestling and brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu. Tony goes by the nick name of ‘El Cucuy’, which is said to translate to ‘mythical ghost monster’. The mythical ghost monster is riding an impressive nine fight win streak. He brings masterful submission skills, with five of those nine wins coming by way of submission. Ferguson is the current number two ranked UFC lightweight contender.

He has come a long way since his decision loss to Michael Johnson. Many would agree ‘El Cucuy’ has noticeably improved as a fighter gaining victories over Edson Barboza and Rafael Dos Anjos.

Ferguson combines effective boxing and striking abilities with his wrestling skills. His conditioning is top notch and he is fully capable of deploying ground and pound.

The big questions still remain. Will Ferguson be able to handle the grappling strength of Nurmagomedov? Will Ferguson be able to surprise Nurmagovedov with a submission choke? Can Nurmagomedov survive in the event he is clipped by Ferguson’s striking? And how long will Ferguson last if he is taken down and subjected to Nurmagomedov’s relentless ground and pound? 1,2,3,4…

Written By: MMA with TOMMY V.

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