What’s next for Tony Ferguson?
Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson was the boogeyman of the lightweight division for good reason. With a 12-fight win streak under his belt including some devastating finishes, Ferguson seemed to be on a one-way collision course for UFC gold. Though he was always seen as the second best lightweight on the planet after Khabib Nurmagomedov, Ferguson’s reign of terror was undeniable in its own right. Following his loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 262, the scariest name in the rankings is now riding a 3-fight loss streak.
In what started as Ferguson taking a huge risk that the fans loved him for by fighting Justin Gaethje in an interim title fight when he really didn’t need to, Tony now finds himself in the worst run of his professional career. Having never lost back-to-back fights in his career up to that point, the Gaethje loss was excusable due to the context of the fight. The two losses since showed even less of the Ferguson that went on the streak, as he was dominated and controlled on the ground by Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush. Though both men sit at the top of the tree when it comes to elite grapplers in the UFC, ‘El Cucuy’ looked out of his depth on both nights.
Unable to implement his fighting style of relentless pressure and volume, Ferguson has not won a round in either of his last three and this raises some serious red flags. When asked about Tony’s future after the fight, Dana White said he was unsure about it at this point, adding “Time gets us all”. After he has stepped up for the promotion when others wouldn’t have on multiple situations and his incredible run that lasted from 2013 to 2019, it is very unlikely that he will be cut. If Ferguson wants to fight, which he clearly does if his post fight social media posts are anything to go by, he may get one last shot in the UFC to prove himself.
Though one of his social media posts after UFC 262 seemed to suggest that he was contemplating hanging up the gloves, he followed this up just one day later. This post came with the message: “Retire & Give These MF’s A Break!? No, I Don’t Think So. Not On My Watch… Now I’m Pissed.”. The big question going forward will be if Tony decides to fight again, who should be standing across the cage from him?
Whilst taking on a rising contender will most likely be the path presented to Ferguson, another rumoured fight would be a far more attractive offer for the fans. With MMA legend Nick Diaz contemplating a return, Tony Ferguson would make for a perfect opponent. Not only would the fight be an incredibly fun brawl to watch given their fighting styles, the bout makes sense for both men. They both have serious reputations in the sport for bringing violence with them and it’s a fight that feels big but most importantly, feels right considering where they’re at in their careers.
After the massive clash of lightweights with Nurmagomedov forever eluded Tony Ferguson, welcoming Nick Diaz back to the UFC would be the big fight that he has deserved for so long. If he decides to step away from the sport, Ferguson would leave the UFC as a true fan favourite with one of the most impressive runs the sport has ever seen. Though the lightweight title dream never materialised for him, this isn’t what he will be remembered for. Though predicting what the Diaz brothers will do is about as likely as winning the lottery, Ferguson vs Nick Diaz not only makes sense, it’s a perfect legacy moment for both men.