Tony Ferguson sees a clear path back to the top of the UFC lightweight division.
Ferguson (25-4 MMA, 15-2 UFC), who saw his 12-fight winning streak snapped at the hands of Justin Gaethje for the interim title at UFC 249, is looking to pick up right where he left off by facing one of the division’s top contenders.
Ferguson was slated to face UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in May, that fight fell through for the fifth time after Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw.
Ferguson faced Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) instead, who handed him his first loss in more than eight years. But after a little time off, Ferguson is hoping to fight before the end of the year for an opportunity to face the winner of Nurmagomedov and Gaethje, who will headline the UFC’s Oct. 24 pay-per-view.
Two suggestions were thrown his way for potential next fights: former featherweight and lightweight champ Conor McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) and former interim lightweight champ Dustin Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC).
And Ferguson is game to fight either man.
“They’re both decent fighters. They’re both good,” Ferguson told ESPN. “We’re all elite and top five for a reason. … So far as fights go, if Conor wants to fight, I’m down for that. I’d love to fight a southpaw. I’d do really well. I knocked Aaron Riley’s jaw in that one on accident, so I mean, when it comes down to me fighting standup, you gotta remember when I fought Edson Barboza. It’s a lot different. This mix and matching kind of stuff like that, if it does happen again, cool. I’m already used to it.
“Doesn’t matter. Opponent switches, COVID, anything else wants to pop up, we’re used to it now. You want to give me Conor, you give me Conor, You want to give me Poirier, we’ll make it happen, and then we’ll fight for the winner of the Gaethje and Khabib fight.”
Ferguson went through a murderers’ row for the opportunity to win the UFC interim lightweight title, so he doesn’t expect to have to climb his way back up. His body of work speaks for itself, and there are only a few particular names that he’s targeting.
“I would love to compete against Khabib, Poirier, McGregor,” Ferguson said. “Those are the three right there. Why? Talent-wise, that’s why. Not because of any other ways or means. Because of the talent and the athletic respect that I have for their talent that they have in this sport.”