Ahead of the much-anticipated UFC lightweight face off between interim title holder Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on April 7, one man who knows both men has had his say.
Michael Johnson has fought both champion and challenger, handing Ferguson the only defeat of his UFC career to date in 2012 while also causing the Eagle some problems during their fight in November 2016 before eventually losing via a third-round submission.
Asked for his opinion on who will win when the two meet in New York next month, the now featherweight Johnson told the UFC website: “It’s gonna be incredible and I can’t wait to watch it.”
“Tony keeps improving, Khabib’s improving as well and it’s gonna be a great fight for the fans. I think we’re gonna see the true lightweight champ come out of these two guys,” he added.
— UFC (@ufc) March 23, 2018
With Nurmagomedov’s grappling game considered one of the best in the Octagon, Johnson provided the following advice to the champion.
“The key to beating him (Nurmagomedov) is staying off the ground and keeping him off of you,” he said. “Keep it moving. Tony’s got great movement and the cardio to do it, and he’s gotta stay long and stay out of Khabib’s range of getting grabbed.”
“Khabib’s gotta put a lot of pressure on him and he’s gonna get him down to the ground. That’s what he wants to do to win, everybody knows it, we all train to stop it, yet nobody has stopped it yet. So we’re all looking forward to seeing if Tony is gonna be the first one to stop it. Do I think so? I don’t think he’ll stop it, but I definitely think he has the skill and the ability to stall it out on the ground or work to get back up.”