After scoring twelve straight UFC wins, Tony Ferguson is still not guaranteed the next Lightweight Title shot. However, Dana White denies the claim that he's blocking 'El Cucuy' from UFC gold, pointing out that it's slightly more complex than that.
During a recent Instagram Live on the ESPN MMA account, Dana White responded bluntly to a question regarding that very topic. “When did I say that this guy doesn’t deserve anything? I mean if you do your homework on the Tony Ferguson thing, how many times have Tony Ferguson and Khabib [Nurmagomedov] been lined up to fight? It didn’t work out,” White said.
“He was the interim champion, blew his knee out, he had to have ACL surgery. He was out. We just offered him the fight with [Dustin] Poirier to fight Khabib next, he turned the fight down. Then he came back a few weeks later and was ready to fight again. Everybody’s acting like I’ve denied Tony his shot at the title. It’s just that he’s had a bad string of luck and things haven’t gone his way.”
White's timeline of events is mostly undeniable, with Ferguson indeed experiencing a quite staggering combination of bad timing as well as bad luck. Nonetheless, he's kept winning and as a result, remains the division's consensus top contender. Most recently, Ferguson defeated Cerrone via doctor stoppage at UFC 238, impressing en route to yet another finish victory. “He just looked phenomenal in the fight [against Donald Cerrone]," White said.
"I just posted something the other day about his last seven opponents. The guy’s a stud and he’s in a good place right now mentally and physically and we’ll see how this thing plays out in September and then we’ll go from there. But everybody’s terrorizing me like I’m not giving him what he deserves. If you’re a fan of the sport, you saw how this whole thing played out. That’s how we got where we are now.”
Regardless of what's already happened, Ferguson will have to wait until after September 7th if he plans on fighting for the UFC Lightweight Title next. On that date, UFC 242 will take place in Abu Dhabi, with 155 pound kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on interim titleholder Dustin Poirer in a highly anticipated unification bout. Once that fight is complete, Ferguson appears to be the obvious next contender but with Conor McGregor looming, nothing is guaranteed.