Next up on our UFC 205 preview is the lightweight bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson. The fact that this fight finds itself situated within the prelims speaks lengths about the strength of the UFC 205 card in itself.
Khabib Nurmagomedov boasts an impressive 23-0 professional record and is currently ranked number one in the official UFC rankings behind the champion, Eddie Alvarez. He was highly tipped to be next in line for a title shot before Conor McGregor staked claim for a chance to make UFC history. The Russian has only fought once since defeating Rafael Dos Anjos in April 2014 due to injuries, and this has no doubt played a key part in halting his efforts to win gold and leave his mark on the lightweight division. For many, Nurmagomedov is undoubtedly the best fighter in the promotion never to have won a UFC title.
He is undeniably a ferocious fighter who constantly looks to move forward, offering a well-rounded skill set and will use this to take Johnson out of his comfort zone. His grappling is up there with the best in the business and has been compared to that of Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo who have in the past competed at Olympic level at wrestling. With this in mind – as he is facing a striker in his opponent – there will be no surprise if he looks to take the fight to the ground early on and finish it there, if not win the fight through a convincing decision.
For Khabib then, he faces another hurdle in his quest for gold. The man next in line to face the ‘The Eagle’ is Michael Johnson. Fresh off a first round knockout of Dustin Poirier in September, Johnson will be on a high as he prepares for this match up. Although ‘The Menace’ (17-10) is coming into the fight as the underdog with many expecting a victory for Khabib, The Blackzilians fighter holds wins over the likes of Edson Barboza, Joe Lauzon and Tony Ferguson on his record and is sure to be more than capable to cause an upset in this one.
In his last fight against Dustin Poirier, Johnson put on an impressive display. He has very fast and powerful hands and has shown this on many occasions. If he can manage to use this to his advantage and find some space or to catch Khabib on the counter there is no doubt that he is capable of finding the knockout – as he demonstrated in the Poirier fight. This is the area which Johnson will be looking to capitalise on early as the longer the fight plays out, the more likely Khabib is to use his wrestling to exploit any tiredness shown from ‘The Menace’.
This is an unmissable match-up for UFC fans and one which has the potential to pick up any one of the fight bonuses, for sure.