With 12 wins in a row in arguably the deepest division in the sport, Tony Ferguson should probably have already fought for the UFC lightweight title but it still hasn’t happened yet.
Ferguson won an interim lightweight title back in 2017 with a submission against Kevin Lee but then a freak knee injury a few months later prevented him from a shot at the undisputed belt in a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
When Ferguson returned six months later, he was matched up with Anthony Pettis while Nurmagomedov engaged in a rivalry fight against former champion Conor McGregor with the title on the line.
Ferguson was then dealing with some personal issues that prevented him from fighting for another interim title earlier this year, although he claimed he was absolutely ready to compete. In the end, Ferguson finally returned at UFC 238 in June where he picked up a second round TKO against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone to once again cement his spot as the top contender in the lightweight division.
In the aftermath of that latest win, UFC president Dana White couldn’t make any guarantees about what came next for Ferguson because the lightweight title is already up for grabs in September when Nurmagomedov faces Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. Despite uncertainty surrounding Ferguson’s next fight, White fired back at the notion that he’s somehow prevented the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner from competing for the title when really it’s been a series of unfortunate incidents that have constantly stood in his way.
“When did I say that this guy doesn’t deserve anything? I mean if you do your homework on the Tony Ferguson thing, how many times have Tony Ferguson and Khabib [Nurmagomedov] been lined up to fight? It didn’t work out,” White responded when asked about Ferguson during an Instagram Live session on Tuesday. “He was the interim champion, blew his knee out, he had to have ACL surgery. He was out. We just offered him the fight with [Dustin] Poirier to fight Khabib next, he turned the fight down. Then he came back a few weeks later and was ready to fight again.
“Everybody’s acting like I’ve denied Tony his shot at the title. It’s just that he’s had a bad string of luck and things haven’t gone his way.”
Following his fight against Cerrone at UFC 238, Ferguson said that it only made sense that 12 wins in a row should earn him the winner of Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier but he also doesn’t expect a contract to come across his table any time soon.
There has been plenty of recent chatter about McGregor returning before the end of the year and he has been calling for a rematch against Nurmagomedov ever since the former two-division champion fell to him the first time around.
As the biggest draw in the sport, McGregor definitely commands more attention when he steps to the negotiating table for his fights, which is why his requests are immediately taken so seriously.
McGregor’s shadow definitely looms large over the division but White says that nothing will be decided regarding the next contender in line for the lightweight title until after UFC 242 in September and that conversation will certainly include Ferguson as well.
“He just looked phenomenal in the fight [against Donald Cerrone]. I just posted something the other day about his last seven opponents. The guy’s a stud and he’s in a good place right now mentally and physically and we’ll see how this thing plays out in September and then we’ll go from there,” White said about Ferguson.
“But everybody’s terrorizing me like I’m not giving him what he deserves. If you’re a fan of the sport, you saw how this whole thing played out. That’s how we got where we are now.”