"Tony underestimated the opponent"
The UFC 249 tournament ended with the defeat of Tony Ferguson from Justin Gatzy in the fight for the interim lightweight champion title. The winner took five rounds, after which the judges awarded a technical knockout. In anticipation of the fight, many bet on the opposite outcome, so what happened surprised the representatives of the world of mixed martial arts.
At the same time, some of them admitted that the ex-owner of the time zone did not approach the match in the best shape. UFC President Dana White suggested that he was affected by two weight lifters in a short period of time.
“The fight was great. I do not want to underestimate Justin's merits, because he showed a great fight. And Tony looked slow ... But he is an extraordinary man, and what a jaw he has! No one is holding Gatja's punches like him. In general, I think that the fight could be stopped earlier. Ferguson suffered serious damage, missed a bunch of punches from the guy who they are very strong. Justin would have just ruled out another, ”White said at a news conference after the fight.
Russian UFC fighter Peter Jan suggested Ferguson would be a more dangerous rival, so he called the meeting unpredictable. According to him, Gatzy more confidently controlled the course of the fight and looked better in the rack.
“Tony missed a thousand hits, so the stop was on time. No options. I don’t know what Ferguson could have offered in the last minutes of the fifth round, he was shocked, lost, ”Sport Express quotes Yan as saying.
A similar position was expressed by the representative of Bellator Sergey Kharitonov. He also admitted that he expected more from Ferguson.
“I don’t know if everything ended for Ferguson tonight, but I’ll say that it was impossible for him to approach the battle in such an unimportant form. I understand him, he relaxed to some extent, underestimated the opponent. But maybe Tony will still gather his strength, ”RIA Novosti quoted Kharitonov as saying.
In turn, former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko recalled that initially Ferguson was preparing for a duel for the championship title with Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, and it became known only a month ago about the change of opponent.
“Tony led all the preparations for the rival fighter - a completely opposite manner than that of Gatgy. It was evident that he had great tactical problems. Ferguson did not know what to do. It seems to me that I just did not have time to rebuild. On the contrary, nothing was pressing on Gatja, everything was fine, and he showed himself to the best, ”commented Shlemenko on the result of the battle.
At the same time, there were those who paid tribute to the loser. So, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovsky admitted that he is sorry for the American, and Kamaru Usman, the welterweight belt holder, called him “a real warrior”.
Ferguson’s fighting qualities were admired by his compatriot Michael Chiesa.
“We should be grateful to Ferguson for this fight, because he had every right to wait for Habib. Tony is not a man. Although he got it, it did not shake his determination to fight for victory. There are no more like him. He is an anomaly, ”Chiesa wrote.
Gatji reacted to the victory and Nurmagomedov. With that, he first left his post “without comment” on his Twitter page, but then he congratulated the American on winning the title of interim champion of UFC.
“It was impressive, congratulations. A very smart fight, ”Habib turned to Justin.
“We will still fight”
As for the future of Nurmagomedov himself, before the tournament, White again confirmed that he would meet with the winner of the main battle of the evening. He expressed hope that the title fight will take place this summer, but there is no talk of a more accurate date yet.
Upon learning that he was to meet with Gatzha, the Russian hinted at an early defense of the title.
“In this sport, especially in this weight, there will always be hungry lions that will breathe in your back. If you relax, you're done. Some leave, others come, there is nothing to be surprised. But I won’t fall before the shot. We will still fight, ”Nurmagomedov wrote.
At some point, information appeared that the winner of the current battle would meet with McGregor, but the rumor was denied by the UFC. Gatji himself said that the only obstacle to his championship is the Russian.
"Conor? No. I want to face the biggest challenge of my life. I need Khabib Nurmagomedov. USA vs Dagestan. After that I’ll go to Ireland and do what I have to do, ”the American said.
In turn, Shlemenko emphasized that Gatzhi deserved a meeting with a Russian. In his opinion, Nurmagomedov needs serious preparation, since the American looks like a more dangerous opponent than Ferguson.
“Now we need to try to find a fighter with a blow stronger than that of Gatzy, as well as with such good defense against take-downs. Therefore, on paper, it becomes very dangerous for Habib than anyone else. The only negative point is that they have one manager. Tony would become a very convenient rival for Nurmagomedov. He is not afraid of moving to the stalls, he likes to work from the back with his elbows, but this would not bring much damage to Habib. But Gatgi, on the contrary, is much more dangerous, ”Shlemenko explained.
Ex-mixed-style fighter Jeff Monson also suggested that Nurmagomedov may have problems in the fight with Gatzy, although he has every chance to defend the title again.
“It will be hard with him; it’s not easy to knock him down. But I follow how Habib prepares and trains, and I will not risk putting against him. Of course, Gatgy can knock him out, but I think Nurmagomedov will defeat him. Ferguson stood in this battle all the time, and the Russian has a different style, ”Sport24 quotes Monson.
Kamil Gadzhiev, president of the Fight Nights Global promotion, called Nurmagomedov the favorite of the upcoming battle. At the same time, he compared Gatgy with the previous rival of the Russian Conor McGregor, whom he defeated in October 2018.
“The danger will be every time at the beginning of the round, as Justin hits hard and goes forward. But as soon as Habib transfers the fight to the ground, he will immediately dominate. The only question is whether he will be able to do this before they get into him. I think he will succeed ... Gaji fights well, but does it to a certain level, ”Hassiev quotes TASS.