MMA fans might be able to see a glimpse of the greatest match that never was, as Ali Abdelaziz has just publicly reached out to Tony Ferguson in order to offer him a grappling match with Khabib Nurmagomedov. While this isn’t exactly what fans have been waiting for all these years, it’s certainly better than nothing and given that Nurmagomedov announced his retirement over a year ago at UFC 254, this might be the closest they’ll ever get. During his time at the top of the UFC Lightweight division he had a fight scheduled against Ferguson on no less than five separate occasions, once per year between 2014 and 2018 before the final time in 2020.
Sadly, everything ranging from bad weight-cuts, freak injuries, and a global pandemic conspired to keep Ferguson and Nurmagomedov from meeting in the cage at a time when they were the consensus best two MMA fighters in the Lightweight division. At the very least, a grappling match between the two will go a short way towards giving a sense of satisfaction to a rivalry that spanned over half a decade. This wouldn’t be the only grappling match that Nurmagomedov would have available to him either, and there are plenty of willing opponents if Ferguson isn’t happy meeting him without strikes.
Just recently, Dillon Danis said that he believed a grappling match with Nurmagomedov would be ‘easy work’, while Garry Tonon was a little more respectful but still believes he too would earn the victory if he met him on the mats. Nurmagomedov is no slouch at all of course and even though he’s never competed in a professional Jiu-Jitsu match himself, elite BJJ black belt Demian Maia is among those who believe him to be the greatest grappler to ever set foot in the octagon.
Naturally, there’s a fair chance that this is just a promotional effort by Ali Abdelaziz and the grappling match between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov never actually comes to fruition. This seems even more likely when considering the fact that Nurmagomedov has recently signed to compete for a third-tier Russian football team, FC Legion Dynamo, and he seems to be enjoying his retirement from combat sports in a number of different ways.
Ali Abdelaziz made Tony Ferguson the offer of a grappling match with Khabib Nurmagomedov in a post to his official Twitter account:
— Ali Abdelaziz (@AliAbdelaziz00) December 14, 2021