Blogger’s Note: It’s considered poor writing protocol to call someone by their first name but I’m exhausted so I’m just calling him “Khabib” from now on.
It wouldn’t be a hot take to say that apart from a fight featuring one of the token UFC Pay Per View Headliners (Jones, Lesnar, McGregor, etc.) Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson might be the most anticipated fight of this generation, at least.
Not only has this fight been anxiously awaited to see who strictly speaking is the better of these two specific combatants, but it also has the unique quality of having a constantly evolving set of macro-level stakes attached to it over the last couple of years. First it was the question of who is the heir to the 155lb throne, the next great fighter of the House That Penn Built. Then it was who is the best 155er other than Conor McGregor. Then it was who is the best in that division period, as for awhile it was unknown if McGregor would ever return. Now, it is a sort of amalgamation of all three.
So for the UFC 223 Main Event, in one corner you have Ferguson. He is ridiculously talented, although I find him to be 1000% obnoxious. Some folks have expertly taken pages from the Sonnen-McGregor self promotion playbook and used it their advantage. Tony Ferguson has used it to create a string of cringe worthy moments, only to double back and say that is what he was trying to do. Basically if peeing your pants is cool Tony Ferguson is Miles Davis. With all that said, he has refused to allow his talent to be ignored. Since losing to Michael Johnson in 2012 he has won 10 in a row, most recently capturing the Lightweight (interim?) title that he will defend against his Dagestani adversary. He leverages a long frame to enable his solid boxing, wrestling, and a particularly tricky, opportunistic submission grappling game.
Across from Ferguson will be the all at once enigmatic-yet-feared-for-a-reason Khabib. The path of utter destruction he has left behind him in the UFC cage has been cloaked in and footnoted by injury, failed weight-cuts, an annual absence due to Ramadan, and some simply unexplained inactivity. There have been times when he has been considered the unofficial king of the 155 division, a guy you couldn’t see losing to anybody if he could just get back in there; and there have been times where he has been gone long enough to allow guys like Ferguson to rise up and allow you to wonder if Khabib has continued to improve and grind enough to stay as elite as he has always looked. As a fighter, he’s just a brute. he employs sharp hands to set up a nearly unstoppable double-leg. From there, his suffocating top game allows him to unleash hellacious ground and pound as well as the occasional submission. He’s 25-0 for a reason.
With. All. Of. That. Said this is the 4th Goddam motherfucking time this fight has been booked. The pull out record (nice) stands at 3-1 in favor of Ferguson, who once had to back out due to a knee injury, allowing Khabib to show up to Tampa 5 pounds overweight and beat the bag out of poor Darrell Horcher. On Khabib’s side, as I mentioned, injury and an always interesting battle with the scale has been his main Achilles heel(s). I honestly believe he has the weight under control thanks to Fighters Who Love Food whisperer Tyler “Melee” Minton, whose nutritional guruness has proven to be most effective for a number of weigh-in degenerates these days.
With all that said, fuck just “hoping” this thing happens. Here’s what I want to see: I want Khabib and Ferguson allowed nowhere but their beds. Not even a couch. I’ve slept on couches, bad things can happen. Have someone carry them to and from the sauna, people slip in there. For exercise to aid them in cutting weight, use that lat pulldown-ish rubber band workout that people on “My 600lb Life” do supine in order to lose a quick 80lb so that they can get live saving lap band surgery or some shit. Get these guys to the scale and then into the octagon, but due NOT get my hopes up again. 2018 has sucked, They have TWO lightweight contests on the main card for UFC 223. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Nope. Because if either Tony Spazzmaticweirdo or Khabib Tiramisu can’t make it to the cage we are going to see something like Ferguson-Iaquinta or Khabib-Felder in the MAIN EVENT OF A UFC PPV. I love Paul Felder. I love Ragin Al Iaquinta (if you’re reading this Mr. Ragin I mean no disrespect) but to see either of them headlining a PPV in a title fight at this point in their careers would be beyond disappointing. What’s that? Cashmeousside vs. Jedrzejczyk would probably be moved up to the Main Event slot? Fucking fantastic. No. Put Ferguson and Khabib in the same pads as the over-protected kid in the beginning of “The Little Giants” and let’s find out two Saturdays from now who gets their red panty night.