American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez talks about why Tony Ferguson is the toughest opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov has ever faced.
Khabib Nurmagomedov has been training at the American Kickboxing Academy under Javier Mendez for some years now. The undefeated UFC lightweight champion is expected to defend his title against Tony Ferguson later next month.
Going into the fight, Tony Ferguson is widely considered to be the best lightweight fighter on the planet. He has not lost inside the Octagon since 2013 and in that time he has managed to put together a 13-fight winning streak. Ferguson holds notable wins over the likes of Danny Castillo, Mike Rio, Katsunori Kikuno, Abel Trujillo, Gleison Tibau, Josh Thomson, Edson Barboza, Lando Vannata, Rafael dos Anjos, Kevin Lee, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone among others.
With such an impressive resume Javier Mendez is not taking the challenge lightly. He made a recent appearance on episode of the Submission Radio, where he talked about why he believes Ferguson is the toughest opponent Nurmagomedov will have ever faced:
“Well for me, I just go by the toughest opponent. I think overall, Tony [Ferguson] is the toughest opponent, overall, with everything in skill set,” Javier Mendez started off saying.
“Striking wise, I think Conor [McGregor] was the best striker he has ever faced. But I think overall, Tony has got the best overall skills out of anybody he [Nurmagomedov] has ever fought. ‘Cause he’s dangerous on the feet and he’s dangerous on the ground. He’s got decent wrestling, he’s dangerous everywhere.
“Khabib has also improved a lot in so many different areas. The last [fight] wasn’t as good as he is in this fight so we will see a new Khabib.”
Ferguson last competed inside the Octagon in June, 2019 at UFC 238, where he earned a “Fight of the Night” bonus in his stoppage victory over Donald Cerrone. He recently released some training footage, which Nurmagomedov didn’t appear to be impressed by.
Mendez believes that in his Octagon return against Nurmagomedov, we will see a new version of Ferguson:
“And we’re definitely going to see a new Tony. But at the end of the day, Is Tony the toughest opponent? In some ways, yes, and in other ways no,” he said.
“We will see when we get there. It’s hard to say. You know he’s never fought someone like Tony. Tony has never fought someone like him. We’ll see what happens when Khabib takes him down because that’s going to happen, and we’ll see if Tony can do what he’s used to doing.
“He [Ferguson] may find he can’t and that may be one of the areas where he’ll go ‘oh cr*p, I didn’t realise he was this good.’ Mostly, everybody that’s ever dealt with him [Nurmagomedov], they come up saying, ‘I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was that good.’”
Khabib Nurmagomedov remains confident in himself, believing that he will beat Ferguson and his fans will resort to using “El Cucuy’s” age as an excuse. Entering the main event at UFC 249, Ferguson will be 36-years old. His opponent, Nurmagomedov is 31-years old.
This article first appeared on CLOSEDGUARDMEDIA.com on 19th March, 2020.