- On Sunday night, the UFC 249 tournament will take place , in the main fight of which Tony Ferguson and Justin Gatzy will meet. What are your expectations from the duel?

- Like everyone, I feel a little disappointment due to the fact that the fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson did not take place. As for the upcoming fight, I think Tony is a favorite. I think he will pass Justin. When Gatzhi confronts a really serious opponent, he always has problems. Take his battles with Eddie Alvarez or Dustin Porrier.

- Surely one of the main issues now is the form in which both athletes will appear.

- One can safely say that they will be in imperfect conditions. I am watching how many athletes practice in the USA. This can hardly be called a training camp. In this regard, Ferguson has an advantage, because he managed to lay the base earlier. Gatja did not have such an opportunity, and it is known that he needs all the conditions - long-term training camps and sparring partners. As for Tony, he is one of those who can prepare in the jungle. True, I don’t understand why he spent that weight-loss.

- Ferguson specifically made weight on the eve of the already canceled tournament, which was supposed to be held on April 18. How much can this affect his body?

- This is a serious stress. In my practice, there were cases when the guys had to lose weight several times. Undoubtedly, this will affect Ferguson’s condition, but I don’t think that it will become the cornerstone in the confrontation with Gatzy. It is more interesting to understand his motivation. Perhaps he wanted to attract the attention of fans. He intended to show that he had completed his part of the work. Or to prove something to himself, to the whole world, and also to throw a small pebble into the garden of Habib.

- On what aspects will the lack of perfect training first hit?

- This can affect endurance and psychological state. This whole situation does not benefit them. It will be interesting how athletes will show themselves in conditions close to a street fight.

- What do you have in mind?

- The atmosphere is exceptional, because the show will be held without fans. For some it’s good, for some it’s not. I think this will have a negative impact. As for training, at the final stage you need sparring, honing the details and adaptation to a specific opponent. Now it is almost impossible. Nevertheless, I believe that this will not affect the entertainment.

- Given that a regular training camp takes two to three months, how do athletes build training?

- Personally, I prefer the fighter to be drawn into the training process through cardio exercises. Thus, he gradually prepares the body for stress. You can add gymnastics to tone the ligaments and joints. After that, the athlete smoothly moves to the power unit.

- What does it consist of?

- During this period, emphasis is placed on power indicators, but do not get carried away with it. After all, a person does not need to carry unnecessary cargo, which will need to be fed. Also, combat training is actively conducted - wrestling, boxing, grappling, jujitsu. This stage can take from four to six weeks.

- What's next?

- The athlete proceeds to the final stage of preparation. In the course of it there is a “sharpening” for a certain opponent. I personally advise you to select a pair of sparring partners with similar anthropometry so that they can imitate the future opponent. Thus, even before the fight, the athlete will repeatedly fight with him.

- If you were a coach of Gatgi, who would you identify him as sparring partners to prepare for the battle with Ferguson?

- I would advise him to work with Zabit Magomedsharipov. He can imitate anyone and a bit like Tony.

“What if Ferguson's mentor?”

-It is much simpler here. Need a man with wrestling shock equipment. It is not necessary to take any famous athlete. You can take a Thai style fighter. In terms of the stalls, now there are many experts in know-gi (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without a kimono).

- Speaking of Magomedsharipov, is he already ripe for a duel for the UFC featherweight champion title?

- Until now, I would like to see one or two fights involving Zabit. To be sure that he will stretch all five rounds at a good level. There are questions whether he is capable of this.

- What do you think?

- I am sure that he can do it. But for experience, confidence, he needs to conduct a couple of fights.

- Could the UFC 249 fighters have any additional problems with weight loss due to time and money limitations?

“I don't think so.” Here they don’t need any special conditions, they just need to stick to the plan. Each athlete has nutritionists and trainers. It would be foolish if someone calls quarantine the reason for the unsuccessful weight-loss. Moreover, Ferguson poked everyone with his nose and showed that a pandemic does not affect this process.

- Judging by the photos on social networks, athletes still engaged in large groups and sparring, not paying attention to the threat of coronavirus.

- In my opinion, now the most sensible thing is not to be afraid, not to succumb to psychological pressure, panic. If a person is healthy, then why not work out with him? I am not an expert, but in my opinion, it is a seasonal virus. In addition, there is also pneumonia.

- Do you yourself observe the regime of self-isolation?

- Yes, as a law-abiding citizen I'm sitting at home. I do not want to create problems for others, and there’s nowhere to go especially.

- Many criticized the idea of ​​holding a UFC tournament in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. How did you feel about this intention of the organization?

- Initially reacted negatively. It seemed that the UFC was trying to build the most intelligent of themselves, hoping to hold a show in such an atmosphere. But then he changed his mind. I saw this as a hope for people, an opportunity to cheer them up.

- Some blame the UFC for chasing profits ...

- It is foolish to blame someone for wanting to make money. And against the background of the current despondency - this is what we need. Meal'n'Real.

- Watching the preparation of Ferguson and Gatzy, one gets the impression that in the United States it is easier to relate to the work of athletes in the halls ...

- I think there is no general visit to the halls there, but for some they make certain concessions. In the United States, it’s a little easier in terms of the ability to go out and run. There, this is considered inviolable, and the measures themselves are a little softer than in Russia.

- Many are surprised by Ferguson's training methodology. Don't you find it strange what Tony does during the camp?

- Everyone knows that Ferguson was engaged in wrestling and other sports. I think that his training methodology more or less resembles that used by his colleagues. All unusual exercises are only a supplement, not the basis of the process. You can call it Tony's chip tuning.

- Ferguson is rightly considered one of the most unpredictable fighters in the world. Do you agree?

- The more a fighter has unorthodox techniques, the more difficult it is for an opponent to prepare for a fight with him. Tony beats with his hands, elbows, legs, knees - and does it from different angles. It's great. In this regard, I am also impressed by Magomedsharipov. Like Ferguson, he attacks with all limbs and from different distances. This should be the modern MMA fighter.

- Who else would you rank among the most unorthodox UFC fighters ?

- Jones and the Diaz brothers. They brought a street fight style to the mixed martial arts, but at the same time a technical style. It is unfortunate that Nick has not been playing for a long time, because he, along with John and Georges Saint-Pierre, is one of the three of my favorite fighters.

- Why exactly these three?

- Jones is a megatalent, Saint-Pierre is a role model, which should be equal to absolutely everyone. The same goes for his training system. It should be taken as a basis for specialists. Nick Diaz is a street fighter. He allowed himself everything he wanted. In addition, to some extent his philosophy is close to me. He said that in battle there is nothing fun. He called it just a dry scuffle and did not understand the whole hype around MMA.

- Do you think it was because of this that he stopped his career?

- It does not fit into the UFC development plan model. The same applies to Demetrius Johnson. After all, he is one of the best, most technical fighters, and at one time had an incredible series of successful belt defenses. But one arsenal is not enough to perform in the Absolute Fighting Championship. One must not only be able to fight, but also to present oneself. Therefore, the Mighty Mouse and went to another organization.

- But Diaz attracted great attention of the fans. Would he really not be popular now?

- There are other aspects. Such as attitude to the organization, bosses. Diaz can make something incredible at any time. And when huge money is at stake, not everyone will want to take risks.

- In the last year, the possible duel of Saint-Pierre with Nurmagomedov was repeatedly discussed. Does the canadian need this?

- Georges needs it to the same extent as Habib. It's about heritage, fame. Today Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world, and for Saint-Pierre this is another challenge. The same as in the battle with Michael Bisping.

“But will Saint-Pierre be able to withstand Nurmagomedov at that age?”

- Yes, the years take their toll. Over time, sensitivity disappears, but I think that he is still capable of much. If you recall, before the battle with Bisping, many called the Canadian an outsider. They thought that Saint Pierre would not be able to box with him. But, apparently, those who did not know what the legendary coach Freddie Roach felt about George's skills believed so. No wonder he considered him one of the best boxers in MMA along with Anderson Silva and BJ Penn.

“I think many expected St. Pierre to fight more ...”

- As his mentor John Dunacher said, Georges was criticized for the low percentage of early victories and the absence of a blow. But then we saw how he left Bisping on the left side on the fifth point and strangled him. At the same time, Saint-Pierre looked good. Unless it was difficult for him to carry a similar weight. But given the simple, we can say that he was in very good shape.

“But it’s one thing to go up to average weight, and another thing to go down to light.” Especially considering the fact that Saint-Pierre had never before fought in this category.

- Georges himself is small, and between fights weighs a maximum of 87-88 kg. Several times in his life he launched himself and then reached the mark of 90–91. Saint-Pierre is an ectomorph, so it was difficult for him to gain weight. Before meeting with Bisping, he even had digestive problems because of this. It seems to me that he is able to lose up to 70 kg.

“But is there any point?”

- Not sure. This match could take place in any other format - after Nurmagomedov left the UFC. For the promotion, the battle between Georges and Habib makes no sense. The Canadian will come and go again.

- As for the financial component?

- The UFC will be able to earn some money in this fight. But in terms of hype, this is not the second duel between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, not the battle of Khabib with Tony. In MMA, everything changes very quickly, fans forget about athletes very quickly. Look at the same TJ Dillashaw.

- Returning to Ferguson's training, a special place in them is the Wing Chun style. What is the use of this?

- If there is time and this does not interfere with preparation, an MMA fighter can do tennis or table tennis, gymnastics, as Georges does. You can play hockey, football - these are new challenges for the body. All this benefits the athlete. As for Wing Chun, it helps to develop reaction, speed, and strengthen hands.

- Many consider Tony a favorite of the upcoming battle. In your opinion, due to what Justin can win?

- Tony has a lot of gaps. He misses a lot, it is not so difficult to translate into a stall. Gatji's strengths are his powerful punch and fight. He should focus on his trump cards. But to confess, I don’t know, due to which he will be able to get the better of Ferguson, especially taking into account the shortened camp. Although Justin does not lose his knockout power during the duel, but with each round it will be more difficult for him. In addition, we saw the faces of Tony's rivals after the fight. They all look the same. We can say that this is a trend.

“You are hinting that towards the end of the battle the faces of Ferguson’s opponents are covered in blood.” Do you think Nurmagomedov would have looked just as bad after meeting him?

- Is not a fact. Personally, I do not agree that Ferguson is the most difficult opponent for Nurmagomedov. The Russian man controls the opponent very well in the stalls and fought with many owners of black belts in ju-jitsu, who could not even think about how to spend him in pain or asphyxiation. I do not think that an American is capable of creating any problems on earth for him. Habib is obliged to prevail over Tony.

- At the same time, Nurmagomedov fell into the guillotine in the battle with Porrier ...

“I think he felt the situation.” The castle was not closed, and Nurmagomedov understood and felt all this. There was no danger as such.

- Gatji himself has repeatedly said that he has excellent fighting skills and could compete even with Nurmagomedov. Do you agree?

- Americans love to praise their struggle. As for Nurmagomedov, we can appreciate his skill in this aspect. So far, no one has been able to pick up the keys to him. Largely due to the fact that he never stops and in any situation has at least two options to continue.   

“Unlike Habib, Justin prefers to fight in a stance.” Should we expect that in a fight with Tony he decides to apply wrestling skills?

“I'm sure he will try to transfer Ferguson to the ground.” I think control over the counterpart can bring him success. Gaji needs to focus on this and try not to run out of steam in the first rounds.

- Also at the UFC 249 tournament , a duel will take place between Alexei Oleinik and Fabrizio Werdum. What do you expect from him?

- I would like to wish Alexei victory. It refers to those athletes whom everyone knows and respects. Personally met with him several times. I hope he can win, but I understand that it will not be easy to do this. Werdum is one of the best heavyweight jiu-jitsu experts, but he is also strong and steady. Rafael Cordeiro worked very seriously with him.

- How great are the chances of Oleinik?

- If he can pick up the keys to the opponent and win, I will be very happy, but it will be very difficult for him.