Tony Ferguson managed to put together one of the most impressive winning streaks in UFC history, but he never got the chance to compete for an undisputed title.
Of course, there were two different championship fights planned against Khabib Nurmagomedov during this incredible race. But injuries and a pandemic prevented either from happening.
Still, it’s hard to dispute Ferguson’s frustration given he has won 12 fights in a row and watched other lightweights take a much safer route en route to the title. As he prepares to make his return to UFC 256 this weekend, Ferguson isn’t sure whether he will have the chance to compete for a UFC title again.
“This title is a wet dream,” Ferguson said on media day at UFC 256 Wednesday. “Like that Farmer’s Insurance ad, ‘You almost did it, keep going, we’re going to keep hanging it in front of you.’ I don’t know what the problem is. I don’t know if it’s because I’m Mexican. I am American with Mexican parts. 12 consecutive victories, eight years of development even before women’s sport was [the UFC]. Conor [McGregor] was on welfare. All these different things and I still haven’t won any title luck.
“But I’m still sitting down saying f ** k the free world, just like Eminem.” The most naked I have ever been in my life. I’m still here. I’m still waiting. I have the belt in my room. I could go get another belt but how much greed is it? I have an Ultimate Fighter trophy. I have one [Fighter’s Only] trophy. I have a UFC belt. I have medals and I am Lord of the Rings with all my championship rings.
After Justin Gaethje ended his winning streak in May, Ferguson was eager to return to action to erase the bad taste of defeat from his mouth.
He was initially faced with former interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 254, but neither fighters were able to accept the promotion of a deal to make it happen. Poirier eventually switched to a fight with Conor McGregor instead, which then left Ferguson without an opponent.
Ferguson went on to detail how he tried to fight former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, who just signed with the UFC, but that also fell apart.
“The UFC said Chandler had an argument and then Chandler said he hadn’t fought,” Ferguson said. “Somewhere along the line someone lied. I’m sitting here telling you to clarify the truth.
Ultimately, Ferguson was offered a fight against Charles Oliveira, who is currently leading a seven-game lightweight winning streak, including a submission win over Kevin Lee in his previous outing.
While not the fight he was initially pursuing, Ferguson said Oliveira was the only fighter ready to answer the call when the UFC tried to secure a top-tier opponent.
“Oliveira is the only opponent in the game who wanted to fight,” Ferguson said. “Chandler doesn’t want to fight. Poirier does not want to fight. McNuggets (Conor McGregor) ran and Tiramisu’s (Khabib Nurmagomedov) started.
“You got these assholes going to fuck themselves, they put these guys on top of me and wanna take me back to # 5. It’s happened before.” I hate to say it, but matchmaking is like a logarithm. I found him, I called him.
Even if all goes well against Oliveira, Ferguson can’t be sure what will come next given how far he has come before. They just led to more and more untitled fights against every major lightweight – except the one with the belt.
“That’s where we’re at today at UFC 256 – I’m the main co-event,” Ferguson said. “No one spoke to me about getting a title fight. A 12-game winning streak.
“What have I done wrong?” Walking on someone’s toes? Have I spoken for myself? It was so bad, right? It’s funny to me.