Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - 4/18/20 UFC 249 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - 4/18/20 UFC 249 Pick, Odds, and Prediction Photo by Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 11:45 PM (TBD)

Tony Ferguson +246 / Khabib Nurmagomedov -274

TV: PPV

Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov fight Saturday during UFC 249 for the UFC Lightweight Championship at a location undecided. 

Tony Ferguson enters this fight with a 25-3 record and has won 48 percent of his fights by knockout. Ferguson has won each of his last 12 fights and is coming off a June win over Donald Cerrone. Ferguson is averaging 5.81 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 45 percent. Ferguson is averaging 0.56 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 42 percent. Ferguson is coming off a dominating two rounds against Cowboy where the doctor had to stop the fight due to him blowing a broken nose that caused his eye to close shut. Ferguson earned fight of the night honors, and he has now earned performance bonuses in seven of his last eight fights overall. Ferguson is simply a savage in the octagon with a high work rate and ridiculous cardio that allows him to keep pushing with the same pace in each round. Ferguson has a reputation for beating up fighters and leaving them in a bloody mess. While his striking is elite level, Ferguson is all tough to takedown and he has a deep background in wrestling and BJJ that allows him to hold his own on the canvas if needed. Ferguson was a champion high school and college wrestler, and he’s very comfortable on his back where he’s no stranger to powerful strikes and can change position very quickly. Ferguson has been deserving of this fight for a very long time, and he finally has a chance to solidify his legacy as one of the best lightweights in the history of MMA.

Khabib Nurmagomedov enters this fight with a 28-0 record and has won 36 percent of his fights by decision. This will be Khabib’s third fight since 2018, and he’s coming off a September win over Dustin Poirier. Khabib is averaging 4.11 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 49 percent. Khabib is averaging 5.35 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 47 percent. As usual, Khabib controlled his last fight from start to finish, out striking his opponent, producing seven takedowns and winning in the third round with a rear-naked choke. Khabib has now won three of his last four fights by submission. There’s nothing that can’t be said about Khabib that hasn’t already been said, as he’s relentless with his takedown attempts and almost always gets the fight where he wants it, making it very difficult for his opponent to get comfortable and develop a rhythm. Khabib is an absolute bear once he gets his hands on an opponent, as he controls the rest of the round and just wears him down. Khabib is not great on his feet, but he closes distance well and has decent enough head movement that allows him to close the distance. There’s no tricks with Khabib, as his opponent better be a terrific wrestler and have a wonderful gas tank, or it’s going to be a long night. Khabib may not have much balance to his attack, but he’s as good as it gets when it comes to mastering his craft, and you could argue he has the best ground game of any fighter in the sport.

Khabib deserves to be the favorite because what he’s done to his opponents time and time again. Khabib gets every fight where he wants it and just dominates round after round by controlling position with ease. Until Khabib looks uncomfortable and is no longer able to take the fight to the canvas, it’s tough to bet against him. With that said, Ferguson is as balanced of a fighter as Kahbib has faced up to this point, as his wrestling is high quality and he’s able to fight from his back, which is very important in this matchup. Ferguson is also a hell of an athlete on his feet and has a six inch reach advantage, so Kahbib has to be very careful when trying to get in the clinch. Ferguson can rock Kahbib to sleep if he’s not careful.

We also have to pay attention to the press conference. Kahbib looked upset during that event and even kicked Ferguson’s belt off stage. That’s a sign that Ferguson is in his head and that’s not what you want to see from somebody you’re placing money on.

Ferguson is the more balanced fighter and is a real live underdog in this bout. Give me Ferguson and the big plus money, as he solidifies his legacy.

Randy’s Pick Tony Ferguson +246

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.