Saturday night’s UFC 256 was likely the final nail in the coffin of a fight that MMA fans have wanted to see for years. In the co-main event, Tony Ferguson looked to rebound from his TKO loss to Justin Gaethje in May by defeating surging Brazilian Charles Oliveira.
It didn’t happen, however, as “El Cucuy” was dominated on the ground the majority of the fight, losing a lopsided unanimous decision to “Du Bronx.” With the loss, Ferguson is 0-2 in 2020 and the 36-year-old’s hopes for a title fight anytime soon have diminished drastically.
Ferguson and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov have been booked to fight five times and the match has fallen apart each time. After “The Eagle” defeated Gaethje in October, he announced his retirement from the sport. However, UFC president Dana White has been adamant that he believes the Russian will fight again.
Nurmagomedov has not yet been stripped of the title nor has he officially vacated it.
Although it’s unclear if Nurmagomedov will fight again, there was still a possibility he would compete against Ferguson to reach 30-0, the mountain his late father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, wanted him to climb.
But, because El Cucuy lost to Oliveira on December 12, Ferguson is no longer in the title picture. If he rebounded against the Brazilian at UFC 256, he would have had a much stronger case to earn either a top contender bout or a title shot again Nurmagomedov, should the Russian decide to fight.
White Says the Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov Bout ‘Wasn’t Meant to Be’
During the UFC 256 post-fight press conference, White told the media that he thought fans would “see the old Tony” against Oliveira, speculating that Ferguson’s performance against Gaethje was affected by performing a weight cut weeks prior to their UFC 249 bout.
When asked by the media about Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov, White said via MMA News, “It just didn’t [happen]. It wasn’t from lack of trying. We put that fight together five times. It just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think about it at all.”
White confirmed to the media earlier that he plans on speaking with Nurmagomedov next month about his retirement and if he plans to stick to it. If the Russian chooses to fight, it’s almost certain that it would only be once more, and a fight with Ferguson is not in the cards.
The most action fans will likely get to see between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson is when the champion kicked El Cucuy’s old interim belt. Re-live the moment below:
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White Doesn’t Believe Ferguson Should Retire From MMA
Although he’s dropped his last two bouts, El Cucuy is still an elite-level lightweight who was riding a 12-fight win streak prior to fighting Gaethje. The UFC president said Ferguson should take some time off and reflect on his fighting future. However, White doesn’t believe retirement is next for El Cucuy.
“I mean Tony’s a guy that’s got to go take some time,” White said via MMA News. “Figure out what he wants to do, what’s his game plan for 2021. I think Tony’s still a couple fights away from making any crazy decisions like that.”
Ferguson has a professional MMA record of 25-5, with 12 wins via KO/TKO, eight by submission and five by decision.
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