Now that Tony Ferguson has extended his winning streak to 12, thanks to a win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 238, talk regarding “El Cucuy’s” future is making the rounds. While Ferguson has made it clear he’s hoping to fight for the belt next, he also said he’s open to facing Conor McGregor. So what’s more likely for the former interim lightweight champ?
Ferguson had a bit of a slow start against Cerrone last night, but he began finding his range in round two and battered “Cowboy” with punches (one of which took place following the final horn). After the second round, a bloodied Cerrone made the mistake of blowing his nose, and his right eye swelled shut as a result. The fight was halted as a result.
Well, due to Ferguson’s awe-inspiring run, and because he never actually lost the interim belt, there’s no doubt that he deserves to face the winner of the September 7th bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier. While discussing his next bout, following UFC 238, Ferguson said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“If Dustin Poirier don’t do it, I’m going to do it,” Ferguson said. “Tiramisu [Khabib Nurmagomedov] needs an ass whooping. He needs two to the stomach from me. If it’s McNuggets [Conor McGregor] for a money fight or whatever. He’s an athlete, too. I know the division misses him inside here. I’m pretty sure he misses the fight game, too.
“I want to keep winning. What sounds better than 12 [wins in a row]? 13 — but it sounds a hell of a lot better with a title shot in that 13th victory.”
There you have it, and there’s a couple of things to consider while evaluating what could be around the corner for Ferguson. Chances are his management team will push for Ferguson to get a title fight next. Due to the new pay-per-view model with ESPN+, it’s not clear if Ferguson would really collect a financial windfall from facing McGregor. If Ferguson goes on to win the 155 belt, however, there’s little doubt his checks will increase.
Further, there’s just the simple fact that Ferguson has now competed in two non-title fights, after having the interim belt taken from him – outside the cage – and he’s won both (the other being his win last October over Anthony Pettis). As noted above, Ferguson has earned a title fight and then some.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of signing McGregor up for a fight with Ferguson. McGregor has talked about fighting other top contenders, but more recently he’s been pushing hard for a rematch with Nurmagomedov. The consensus is that’s not going to happen without McGregor returning to the win column first. But will his team view a fight with Ferguson as a path to do this? Maybe?
It’s also worth noting that in the past, Nurmagomedov has talked extensively about the need for him to face Ferguson at some juncture. He’s also said Conor doesn’t deserve an immediate rematch. So, if Khabib wins at UFC 242, and acknowledges that this bout should finally materialize, don’t be surprised if it does. Yes, there’s been some talk about running it back with Cerrone (due to the late shot after round two). But, the latter incurred a broken orbital bone in the fight, and Ferguson’s team understands “El Cucuy” has little to gain by agreeing to a rematch.