UFC 209: Nurmagomedov versus Ferguson Who will win?

Photo Credit: Zuffa LLC / Contributor

By: MMA with TOMMY V.
(Fight Notebook) My two cents worth

Las Vegas – 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. Ferguson is riding an incredible nine fight win streak.

Who will win? Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov? How will it end? Good questions indeed. I have gathered up my notes and share with you my two cents worth pertaining to the fight, the strategy, and the outcome. Take it or leave it good readers of MMA. I find the fight to be an attractive match up. It brings together two fighters with two very different styles. It is fair to conclude the fight could mirror the Nurmagomedov – Johnson fight. It is also equally fair to point out that both Michael Johnson and Rafael Dos Anjos have solid wrestling and Jujitsu, yet they could not handle the aggressive ground attack of Nurmagomedov.

Let us first start with the most basic of facts. Like most combative sports, a fighter’s technique, power, and conditioning play a major role in the outcome. However, it often comes down to simply who wants it the most. With that said, any student of the game knows it only takes one punch to end a fight and submission moves can come out of nowhere and surprisingly bring a fight to a sudden finish.


Winning the fight is not beyond the grasp of Ferguson’s skill set. He is an experienced multi dimensional fighter. He has good standup striking mixed with a solid wrestling and jujitsu background. Ferguson is quick and crafty. It is critical that Ferguson avoid the takedown. Despite Ferguson’s tremendous jujitsu and wrestling it seems logical that he will struggle against the strength and grappling of Nurmagomedov. Possible pathways to success –

– Be cautious and try and keep it a standup fight.
– Use speed advantage and get off first during exchanges. Ferguson should consider shying away of unloading counterpunches in response to Nurmagomedov misses. This could leave Ferguson exposed, off balance, and open for a takedown if Nurmagomedov surges in after his miss.
– Use six inch reach advantage to land effective strikes from a safe range.
– Control the fight with timing, distance, and range.
– Focus on finding striking range early.
– Expect Nurmagomedov to push forward. Capitalize on his approaches with striking.
– Attack Nurmagomedov early with leg kicks and attempt to exploit any remnant of the plaguing knee injuries from two years ago.
– Strike and move. Use an in and out offense. Step in unload a timed strike or a quick combination and step out.
– Try and lead Nurmagomedov as he pushes forward. Keep him at the end of the punches.
– Be content landing strikes from outside Nurmagomedov’s range.
– Use reach advantage to provide extra space between Nurmagomedov allowing for more defensive mobility against his takedown attempts.
– Keep the action in the center and avoid being pushed or trapped against the cage.
– Neutralize Nurmagomedov’s grappling strength by avoiding entanglement as often as possible.
– Scramble up if possible or be ready with submission skills in the event the action goes to the ground.
– Be prepared to go the distance and to a decision.
– Be patient.


Nurmagomedov is very capable of winning the fight. He needs to focus on what he does best. He has the strength and grappling skill to dominate Ferguson if he can bring him to the ground. He has the aggressiveness and the desire. Nurmagomedov must be relentless and try and bring the fight to the ground from the start. He gains little if any advantage trying to trade standing up with Ferguson. When engaged in standup keep in mind that Ferguson is susceptible upstairs to left hooks and left overhands.

– Fight your fight. Do what you do best.
– Use strength and leverage to control Ferguson on the ground.
– Avoid long term standup exchanges.
– Blitz Ferguson and aggressively go after the takedowns.
– Be prepared to bring Ferguson to the ground in every round if hoping to pull off a decision.
– When on the ground attempt to smoother Ferguson’s Brazilian Jujitsu with body weight and grappling.
– Use strength, leverage, and weight to physically drain Ferguson of energy when entangled.
– If able to control Ferguson with strength and leverage on the ground move towards a crucifix style pin – hold to secure his hands and arms. Then apply ground and pound for a finish.
– Be leery of Ferguson’s submission skills and be cautious of a Ferguson knee or timed strike when coming in for a takedown.
– Remember to look for the left hook or left overhand upstairs against Ferguson during standup exchanges. Perhaps set it up with a right to the body.

I will not spoil the fight by explaining who I believe will win, rather I have listed the chances of probable outcome based on 100 %.

50 % Nurmagomedov uses strength, grappling, and ground and pound to gain victory.
15 % Ferguson ends fight with a submission win.
15 % Ferguson wins by way of decision.
5 % Ferguson drops Nurmagomedov with striking and finishes it.
5 % Nurmagomedov drops Ferguson with strikes and finishes it on the ground.
5 % Nurmagomedov wins decision.
5 % Draw

By: MMA with TOMMY V.

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