Tony Ferguson Broke His Social Media Hiatus and Says He’s The Rightful UFC Lightweight Champion… Does He Have a Point?
MMA is cruel. Just a few months ago, Tony Ferguson was the UFC interim lightweight title. He defeated Kevin Lee to win the strap, setting him up to fight for the official title. The real champion, Conor McGregor, was showing no sign of a return, so the deal was made – for a fourth time – to fight Khabib Nurmagamedov.
However, it all went to hell for Ferguson after he tripped over a wire at a UFC media event in the run-up to UFC 224. Unfortunately for ‘El Cucuy,’ he managed to tear his LCL, putting him out of action until the end of 2018. Few UFC divisions are as packed as lightweight right now, so this was a major setback.
The UFC scrambled to replace him, barely disguising the fact that they wanted Khabib Nurmagamedov to be their champion. After the Russian beat Al Iaquinta, Ferguson, and McGregor were stripped of their titles and moved back to No. 1 and No. 2 in the rankings. Ferguson isn’t happy and thinks he’s the real champion. Does he have a point?
In Ferguson’s eyes, he is the real champion. As McGregor was stripped of the official title, technically he’s got a point. Furthermore, Khabib Nurmagamedov beat Al Iaquinta, the No. 10 ranked lightweight fighter. Credit to them both for saving the main event, but is that match-up really worthy of the title?
”The UFC has indicated my title is gone and Khabib is the only champion at 155 pounds, but the UFC hasn’t mentioned anything official to my management,” Ferguson told ESPN. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m still the true 155-pound champion. I never lost my belt.”
Realistically three men have a claim to the UFC lightweight title: McGregor, Nurmagamedov, and Ferguson. McGregor can be ruled out for inactivity. Nurmagamedov is 26-0, while Ferguson is on a ten-fight win streak, against the arguably stronger opposition.
The fact also remains that Ferguson was bizarrely injured during a UFC promotional event. He was taking time from his own training and weight cut to promote the organization, then was incredibly unfortunate to be injured. Should the UFC have treated him with more respect?
“I missed out on pay-per-view points, my purse, a big payday; a lot of things behind the scenes,” Ferguson said. “They have to either give me my title back or make sure I’m fighting under that same contract. I’ve earned that.”
Losing the title is damaging from a financial perspective. He’s less attractive to sponsors. Ferguson’s argument becomes stronger when you consider that he’s fought and won six times in the last three years. Nurmagamedov has only fought four times in the same period.
Business is Business
At the end of the day though, the UFC is a business and it is ‘Khabib time’ right now. His rivalry with Conor McGregor sells itself and they are being linked to a mega-fight in Las Vegas later this year. Ferguson simply can’t compete with that.
You can also understand why the UFC just wants to move on from Nurmagamedov vs Ferguson, because of the insane amount of times the bout has been canceled. It’s unfortunate and unfair on Ferguson, but that is the fight game. He hopes to return by October. It will interesting to see if he gets that fifth match-up with the champion.