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Don’t Sleep on Welterweight Tony Ferguson

By Timothy James  |  September 7, 2022  |  No Comments

Tony Ferguson has made the jump back up to welterweight - where he fought earlier in his career - after losing 4 in a row in the lightweight division. Some fans believe “El Cucuy” is washed - but you shouldn’t sleep on welterweight Ferguson. Here’s why.

It’s Tony Ferguson fight week, and many fans are already writing off “El Cucuy” - who has dropped his last four fights, including a devastating knockout via a Michael Chandler front kick - but this move up to 170 could revitalize his career.

It’s been over a decade since Ferguson last fought at welterweight. He originally won his UFC contract at 170 when he won The Ultimate Fighter 13 back in 2011, but made the move to lightweight shortly thereafter. It may seem like a distant memory for some, but Ferguson lived up to his title as “El Cucuy” (boogeyman in Spanish) during a 12 fight win streak, where he terrorized the lightweight division.

It came to a halt under dubious circumstances at UFC 249, where Ferguson accepted a fight with Justin Gaethje as a late replacement after Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out - cutting weight twice in two weeks.

Ferguson hasn’t looked quite like himself since then, but there’s reason to believe things will be different this Saturday when he confronts Li Jingliang at UFC 279. Although he lost the Chandler fight, he looked good in the first round - knocking Chandler down and taking the round.

Historically, fighters moving up see an increase in both power and their ability to take a punch. In fact, many of Ferguson’s knockouts came during his tenure at 170. But a big development in Tony’s approach that fans might not be aware of is that he’s joined a new gym - Jackson Wink MMA, Jon Jones’ former gym.

This is also the first fight in seven years that Tony Ferguson will be fighting someone outside the top ten of the division - Li Jingliang is currently the 14th ranked welterweight. Ferguson’s losses have all come against the very top of the lightweight division, which is considered the most stacked division in the promotion. Currently, his last 4 opponents are: 5th ranked Michael Chandler, 6th ranked Beneil Dariush, champion Charles Oliveira, and 3rd ranked Justin Gaethje.

While Li Jingliang - who is coming off a Performance of the Night knockout of Muslim Salikhov - is no easy task, it’s a significant drop down of opponents for Ferguson. 

Tony is still one of the most popular fighters in the promotion, a bonafide fan-favorite. The crowd is sure to be in his favor as he looks to turn his career around. And there’s plenty of reason to believe he can.

Don’t sleep on welterweight Tony Fergsuon - or “El Cucuy” might pay you a visit in your dreams.

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