Tony Ferguson’s Fate Uncertain after UFC 238 Victory over “Cowboy” Cerrone
By: Jesse Donathan
“El Cucuy” is the boogeyman. A monster that leaves even veteran cowboys shaken in their boots. Tony Ferguson (25-3) defeated Donald Cerrone Saturday night at UFC 238 via TKO doctor’s stoppage. The last time Ferguson lost a fight was May 5, 2012 at UFC on Fox 3 to the always tough Michael Johnson. Since then, “El Cucuy” has been on a remarkable 12-fight winning streak in the organization against some of the best fighters in the division.
According to an October 8, 2017 Washington Post article titled, “UFC 216: Tony Ferguson wins interim lightweight title with submission over Kevin Lee,” author Marissa Payne writes that, “It was Grade A beef coming into this fight between Vegas-odds favorite Ferguson and the underdog Lee.” The Grade A beef, an allusion to the stereotypical bad blood role playing card often played by fighters in the lead up to a fight. It’s a go to move in the fight promotion game to stir interest among fans and give media pundits something to write and talk about.
“In the end,” writes Payne, “It was Ferguson who proved victorious and was crowned the interim lightweight champion with his submission of Lee.”
Traditionally spoken of in condescending terms, the UFC interim title doesn’t hold as much weight as the undisputed belt despite being a legitimate, recognized championship nonetheless. But unfortunately for Ferguson, his run as the interim title holder only lasted a New York minute.
According to an October 2, 2018 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Tony Ferguson on UFC stripping interim title: ‘How do you think I f*cking feel?’,” author Marc Raimondi writes that Ferguson, “Was the UFC’s interim lightweight champion until the belt was taken away following a severe knee injury he sustained prior to a scheduled fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April.”
“You shouldn’t strip a champion due to a freak injury that happened during a UFC-obligated media event,” said Ferguson on The MMA Hour in an April 2, 2018 article for MMAFighting.com.
According to the author Dave Doyle, Ferguson reportedly, “Tripped over a heavy production cable in a dark room,” while on set for a FOX television interview. It was a serious injury, one which required immense sacrifice and hard work from Ferguson in order to bounce back, yet Ferguson did so in almost superhuman fashion.
Interestingly enough, ESPN analyst Chael Sonnen is on record as stating that the chord Tony Ferguson tripped over has taken multiple victims out over the course of the years, including one individual who reportedly broke their back and a handful of others to include the UFC’s own heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Since capturing the UFC lightweight interim title against Kevin Lee and subsequently being stripped of his belt, Ferguson has rattled off two straight victories including defeating former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis via corner stoppage and now two-division refugee Donald Cerrone via TKO doctor’s stoppage Saturday night.
“Cerrone’s right eye swelled shut,” writes Cindy Boren in her June 9, 2019 Washington Post article titled, “Tony Ferguson beats Donald Cerrone, who made the mistake of blowing his nose.” According to Boren, “He was taken to a hospital afterward with what UFC President Dana White said was a broken right orbital bone.”
Cerrone, a veteran UFC fighter that has fought in both the UFC lightweight and welterweight divisions no doubt was well aware that blowing his nose after a breakage could result in one or both of his eyes swelling shut; thus, forcing the doctors to stop the fight. But with a reported broken orbital bone, a serious and painful injury I don’t think anyone can blame “Cowboy” for giving in to what is likely an irresistible urge to clear your obstructed airway of unpleasantness.
According to a June 7, 2019 mmamania.com article titled, “Dana White won’t commit to Tony Ferguson title shot with UFC 238 win: ‘I can’t say that’s gonna happen’,” author Dan Hiergesell writes that Ferguson is, “not guaranteed the next shot at the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier,” which is scheduled to go down later this year in September.
The undefeated Nurmagomedov captured the undisputed UFC lightweight title against Al Iaquinta in April of 2018, defeating the spirited Iaquinta by unanimous decision. Nurmagomedov would go on to defend his title against former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor, who no doubt still looms in the lightweight picture; mucking up the waters of what would otherwise be an open and shut case for Tony Ferguson contending for the undisputed belt.
Purely speculative, the UFC would no doubt like to insert McGregor back into a title picture. Which would go a long way in helping McGregor and the UFC to secure a future big money payday in a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the squared circle. But the circumstances have to be right and unfortunately that could mean “El Cucuy” takes a back seat to what brings the most money to the organization as strategy takes precedent over any legitimate claims to the throne.
I don’t think anyone doubts how good Tony Ferguson is. The man has a rightful claim to the UFC lightweight crown, having never lost his interim title in the cage and only being stripped for what in all intents and purposes amounts to an injustice by the UFC. Ferguson should spare no opportunity to remind the public he is uncrowned UFC lightweight champion, because the UFC would otherwise like to quietly brush him under the table as a less marketable, yet incredibly capable fighter that unfortunately has been left on the outside looking in.
Which spells out the ugly truth in the modern day mixed martial arts landscape, the rankings and even the best fighters in the division will take a back seat to marketability and thus profitability every single time. And it doesn’t matter who you are, even the great Tony Ferguson is going to take a number to Conor McGregor when the possibility of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather looms just on the horizon should the Irishmen find himself back in the saddle again.
For Ferguson, it’s a catch 22 predicament where by all things right, good and true he should be next in line for the UFC lightweight title. In his way, Mt. McGregor; an almost insurmountable climb. If “El Cucuy” hopes to make an impact on his championship future, Tony Ferguson is going to need to enter WWE mode. Rounding out his mixed martial arts game with the ancient art of promotion in order to keep his name in the headlines and fresh on the minds of mixed martial arts notoriously fickle fans. Ferguson needs to give the UFC a reason to look his way beyond leaving bodies in his wake, and what better way than to remind the public you’re the UFC interim lightweight champion at every waking moment and pick fights with everyone of note.
Khabib Offers to Pay Ferguson $200,000 to Fight Him Telling Him to Shut Up and Fight
Khabib Offers to Pay Ferguson $200,000 to Fight Him Telling Him to Shut Up and Fight
By: Oliver Dollimore
Undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov has had a rough go when it comes to big opportunities. “The Eagle” sits at no. 1 in the 155-pound division, but he yet to compete for the title.
Khabib Nurmagomedov offered No. 2-ranked Tony Ferguson $200,000 to fight him. The bout, which has been rumored to in the works, hasn’t come to fruition just yet due to Ferguson being in contract disputes with the promotion, although it is a fight that makes quite a bit of sense.
Tony Ferguson has made it abundantly clear that money is an issue standing in the way of a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov.Specifically, the fact Nurmagomedov is being paid more than Ferguson.
Nurmagomedov, for his part, wants to get this highly anticipated No. 1 contender’s fight signed and delivered. So much so that he’s willing to pay in order to make the bout happen at UFC 209 on March 4.
Nurmagomedov (24-0, 8-0 UFC) originally wanted a fight with new lightweight champion Conor McGregor, but since McGregor is on the shelf for a while, Ferguson was the next best choice in his eyes. Meanwhile, Ferguson (22-3, 12-1 UFC) believed that a win over Rafael dos Anjos was going to get him a title a shot. That never materialized either due to McGregor’s layoff and other factors.
While it’s highly unusual for a fighter to offer to pay another fighter to compete against him, Khabib is apparently just doing whatever he can to secure a high-profile bout. Hopefully the UFC can figure the issue out and get these two in the cage together to see who the true number one contender is at 155 pounds.
Nurmagomedov spoke to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour to explain the current situation from his perspective:
“This is impossible [speaking about Ferguson wanting equal pay], (the) UFC never does this. Because I’m different, he’s different. He talks about (a) nine (fight) win streak, but I’m talking about (a) 24 (fight) win streak. Eight years (I’ve been) undefeated. Michael Johnson beat him, I beat Michael Johnson. He fought Rafael dos Anjos (in a) close fight. I dominated Rafael dos Anjos. When he fought with Danny Castillo, you guys can watch this fight, he lost for sure. Why does he want to make money like this? He needs to shut up and take this fight.”
As far as the contract dispute goes, Ferguson himself said on today’s edition of The MMA Hour that he isn’t sure why he isn’t being paid as he’d like to be by the UFC. “El Cucuy” has said that he’d like to be compensated in the same way that “The Eagle” is and he added in that there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be:
“I’m not sure, man. You ask them. Ask them why they’re not paying me, and maybe we’ll get some answers,” Ferguson said. “I haven’t had the opportunities that they have (given Nurmagomedov), as far as, over the past five fights, I’ve only been on one pay-per-view. All the rest have been on FOX Sports 1 cards, which limits my mainstream exposure. Khabib has been on three pay-per-views and two UFC on FOXs, which draws much larger audiences than FOX Sports 1 cards.”
“Despite this, there’s nothing that suggests that Khabib draws any larger than me. I haven’t been given the same opportunities or the same push as Khabib. I don’t belong to AKA or a big major sport’s program. I choose to do different things on my own and I’m building my own legacy, my own facilities, but that’s later on. That’s a completely different subject. So, as far as compensation goes, like I said, the UFC has been known to change it (for a particular fight) over their history, and I’m just looking for them to get this thing going, man. Let’s go. Let’s go, UFC.”
Fighter pay has long been a debated topic and Ferguson feels as if Nurmagomedov’s offer illuminates the problems within the system. As for right now, however, the surging contender encourages fans to get ‘anxious’ about the potential bout:
“But for right now, I’m enjoying my time. The fans, you guys need to get anxious, man. Let’s get some chatter going. Let’s get the UFC involved with this. If you’ve got Khabib willing to sacrifice his life and give me $200,000 of his own money, something’s wrong with that sh*t. I’m not going to take that guy’s money. He’s got a family too. So do I, and he’s got bills to pay. So I’m not going after Khabib’s. All I want is my stuff right and to be compensated for what my numbers prove to be, so let’s go kids.”
Ferguson has made a name for himself by winning an incredible nine straight as well as most recently beating former champion Rafael dos Anjos. Would you like to see him take on Nurmagomedov next?