Happy Sunday fight fans!! UFC 249 was originally supposed to take place on April 18th. The main event was supposed to prove to the entire MMA world who the number one fighter at 155lbs is. The chaotic aftermath of the coronavirus leaves us with an altered fight card and a new date. Barring any further unforeseen delays, UFC 249 will take place on May 9th. Tony Ferguson is set to take on Justin Gaethje for yet another interim belt. I know this fight will be highly entertaining and full of fireworks, but I can’t shake this feeling of feeling cheated. Most will still see Khabib as the best lightweight on the planet, and rightfully so. Nobody’s gotten more of a raw deal than Tony Ferguson.
On October 7th, 2017, Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee via triangle choke to capture his first interim championship. Of course, this was during the time where Conor Mcgregor held the lightweight belt, but he was on his Floyd Mayweather boxing hiatus. Tony would then agree to fight the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov on April 7th, 2018, to crown a new champion. The UFC’s master plan had been to allow Mcgregor to hold onto the title until the Khabib Tony fight started. Ferguson was stricken with an injury while upholding his UFC press obligations and subsequently stripped of that title -less than 6 months after being crowned interim champion. He evidently tripped over some wires and tore the LCL in his left knee. Tony still wanted to fight, which is the precise attitude that makes him such a great fighter. The UFC would end up booking Al Iaquinta in Tony’s place, and Khabib would ultimately win the lightweight title. This is the title that Khabib still holds, but there is still a strong argument for Tony Ferguson being the number one fighter at 155 pounds.
The MMA world is cruel, and the world, according to Dana White, is even worse. Tony Ferguson would shock the world by making his return to the UFC’s octagon within a year. In an ironic twist of fate, Tony was booked in a fight against Anthony Pettis on the very same fight card that Khabib would headline against Conor Mcgregor. UFC 229 took place on October 6th, 2018, and most were impressed with Tony Ferguson accepting a fight. It was downright surprising when Ferguson proceeded to bloody and batter Pettis to the point where Showtime’s corner was forced to stop the war after the 2nd round. Ferguson had defied the odds and returned in spectacular fashion… which only leads to confusing circumstances surrounding the lightweight division.
Why was Tony Stripped just 6 months after he won his interim belt? And then, Khabib was pronounced the legitimate lightweight champion when he won a fight against Al Iaquinta? Why wasn’t that fight for an “interim” belt? Heading into UFC 229, it should have been Tony Ferguson defending or unifying his belt against his opponent. I’m sure Ferguson would’ve been more than willing to fight Khabib or Conor on that night. So the UFC stripped Tony based on the assumption he’d be out too long due to injury. And what about Khabib? Dana White has already said the Tony vs. Khabib fight is unlikely to happen in 2020. We know Dana wants a rematch between Khabib and Mcgregor, but what about Tony? Is he being set up to just be stripped again? I’m not sure what to think of Conor’s situation, either. I love watching Mcgregor fight, but I don’t think a victory over Donald Cerrone at 170lbs warrants a rematch against Khabib for the 155lb strap. It just doesn’t make sense for the division.
On top of that, Conor was mauled by Khabib. What makes anybody think a rematch would be any different? I’d first see Khabib and Conor matched up against other opponents. Hasn’t the UFC learned from its previous mistakes? Conor Mcgregor has never had a successful title defense. The UFC needs to just get over, giving Conor every title shot he desires. His name is so big he doesn’t need a belt attached to his fights. And let’s just say Conor does get the Khabib fight… what if Conor wins? Will he defend the belt? It seems to me like all Mcgregor does is create a logjam within any division he wins the title in. I’m over it. Khabib has an obligation as the champion to defend that belt against a genuine top contender. The UFC fans deserve to know who the best fighter at 155lbs is.
So who is the number one fighter at 155lbs? Tony Ferguson is on a 12 fight win streak that dates back to October of 2013. Tony Ferguson hasn’t lost a fight since winning the interim championship back in October of 2017. Tony Ferguson has never been out for more than a year due to injury or other circumstances. Since October of 2013, Khabib has won all 8 of his fights. He suffered a knee injury after a victory over Rafael dos Anjos forcing a 2-year absence. Khabib returned from that injury in 2016 to fight Darrell Horcher. He had one more fight in 2016 against Michael Johnson before missing another year.
During that time, Khabib pulled out of a scheduled fight against Tony Ferguson due to getting sick from a botched weight cut. Khabib would make his return in December of 2017 against Edson Barboza. Immediately after beating Barboza, Khabib was granted a title shot against Al Iaquinta. I’m sorry, I will not recognize Khabib as the world’s top lightweight. While I can’t hold the knee injury that forced a 2-year layoff against him, it’s hard not to blame Khabib for having to pull out of a scheduled fight against Ferguson due to missing weight. Yeah, yeah, he got sick. A lot of fighters get sick, cutting weight. Khabib has had several issues making weight in the past. If 155lbs is that difficult for him to make, there’s always the 170lb division. Tony Ferguson has never embarrassed the UFC by missing weight. Not only that, but Tony Ferguson proved a point by making weight on April 16th, even with his fight getting canceled and then moved. Then, after making weight, Tony is accepting a fight against a very dangerous opponent in Justin Gaethje. Tony has been the more active fighter, Tony is the more willing fighter, and Tony is undoubtedly the more entertaining fighter. I know Khabib is the recognized champion, but nobody is more worthy of being called the number one fighter at 155lbs than Tony Ferguson.
I can’t wait for UFC 249. I’m praying it doesn’t get delayed further. I’m really hoping we can see Khabib take on the winner of the Ferguson vs. Gaethje fight so we can finally determine the best fighter at 155lbs. Don’t get too caught up with all that negative news. We have an awesome fight card to look forward to in less than a week. Have a great day, and stay safe out there.
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