He’s one of the most enigmatic fighters the UFC has on its current roster. But Tony Ferguson’s unique personality isn’t all he brings to the table.
With a UFC career that’s seen him taste defeat only once, in a fight where he broke his arm and still made the full duration, he’s proven his toughness in multiple ways.
Now he’s on an 11-fight unbeaten streak and has just scored a victory over former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC 229. It was Ferguson’s comeback fight after he suffered a knee injury and ended up being stripped of his interim championship.
Now with Khabib Nurmagomedov as the titleholder, it is unlikely Ferguson will get another shot. It isn’t that the UFC won’t pair the two up – it’s that the MMA gods just won’t allow it. The stylistic dream fight between two of the division’s absolute best have been paired up four times. The fight has been canceled on as many occasions, with each man owning half the withdraws.
The problem now is that the division is crowded again, and Ferguson must find where he fits in. Another former champion, Conor McGregor, is back in the mix and offers a unique matchup for Ferguson. McGregor failed to reclaim the title from Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, and before that, he’d been busy with his boxing endeavors.
And Ferguson says he could beat McGregor in either setting due to his success against southpaws.
“Most of my finishes are against them with style points. I feel if I were to fight Conor McGregor in a cage or boxing match my athleticism and conditioning would be too much for the Irishman and he would easily break in a few rounds.”
McGregor was handily defeated in his recent title bid, but he still has dangerous hands for anyone who can’t neutralize him with grappling. While Ferguson is known for his strong jiu-jitsu game, he does most of his work in scrambles or from the bottom. He isn’t exactly a takedown artist, and he does have a history of getting dropped in his fights.
McGregor, in contrast, is a fighter who does most of his best work early in fights, and while his grappling game isn’t lacking, he prefers to stand. He could potentially catch Ferguson early on in the fight, though Ferguson’s pace advantage means the longer the fight went on, the higher his chances would be.
Perhaps these two will face off for an interim title, with Nurmagomedov expected to face suspension following his involvement in the UFC 229 post-headliner brawl. It would be a shuffling of roles from earlier this year when Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were scheduled for the fourth time as McGregor’s boxing career stopped him from defending the title.
Hopefully, this doesn’t lead to the division being held in limbo again, but even if it does, a Ferguson/McGregor clash in any combat sports environment would be a great treat for fans.