With eight consecutive UFC triumphs under his belt, Tony Ferguson has options in the lightweight division.
The latest of those victories, while against one of his least heralded opponents in some time, was arguably one of his most memorable. Originally slated to face Michael Chiesa, Ferguson survived some precarious moments against short-notice foe Landon Vannata in the UFC Fight Night Sioux Falls co-main event, rallying to earn a second-round submission via brabo choke.
While it was risky taking the fight after Chiesa withdrew a little more than two weeks out, Ferguson had no interest in being removed from the card. And he couldn’t resist taking a jab at one of his would-be opponents in the aftermath.
“I’m not like Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I don’t wait two years to go and fight. I don’t wait six months to go and fight,” Ferguson said on Fox Sports 1. “I wanted to fight; my shelf life is very good and I wanted make sure that I presented myself in front of Sioux Falls. Landon Vannata took this fight on short notice. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to come out and present myself. I took a little bit of unnecessary shots, but it’s nothing that my fans don’t know. I’m very powerful with what I can do, and I imposed my will on him.”
Vannata, an up-and-coming prospect at Jackson-Wink MMA, matched Ferguson blow for blow in round one and even dropped “El Cucuy” with a head kick. However, he was unable to get a finish, and he faded in the second round before Ferguson secured the tapout at the 2:22 mark.
“It was just getting my feet grounded, just making sure I was popping off my hips. He had a couple good shots but it wasn’t anything that I’m unfamiliar with,” Ferguson said. “If you know any of my sparring partners, that they do hit me, [and] I smile right back at them and I come back harder than what I usually do.”
In April, Ferguson was scheduled to face Nurmagomedov in what was likely a title eliminator bout at UFC on Fox 19. However, he was forced to withdraw from the contest when fluid was discovered in his lung. Ferguson wouldn’t mind getting a shot at the Dagestani grappler, but he also believes he has done enough to deserve a championship opportunity, as well.
“All my performances are right there to put me in title contention. This fight was a short notice fight. I know that he [Vannata] wasn’t ranked, but he was a very risky challenge to come in and take this fight,” Ferguson said. “Every single fight is there and I’m ready for it. If Eddie Alvarez he wants to sign on the dotted line, or if he wants an easy fight, go ahead and fight Conor [McGregor]. But I’m a hard fight, I’m not somebody to joke around with. I’d love to get that fight against Khabib. Maybe we’ll go on the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ show and we’ll put on a good show for the fans.”
Regardless of what the future holds, don’t expect Ferguson to turn down a fight. Wednesday evening was proof of that.
“I am top three. I will take on any fight against any given person, any time, anywhere, including a debutante that’s 8-0,” Ferguson said. “He’s a full-time fighter and anybody that’s gonna sign that dotted line is gonna have their hands full with me.”