Tony Ferguson’s submission of Edson Barboza at “The Ultimate Fighter 22” finale was one of the best performances of his career, and maybe one of the best fights in the Octagon in 2015, period.
Just ask his promoter.
“That fight was awesome. That fight was one of the best of the year,” UFC President Dana White told Fox Sports 1. “I have so much respect for Edson Barboza. He took that [illegal] kick to the face and he was rocked. A lot of guys would have quit and said, ‘It’s illegal; I can’t continue.’ Not only did he continue, he hit Ferguson with vicious body shots, unbelievable shots to the head, leg kicks. Everything that you can do to cause damage he did and tried to finish that fight.
“And Tony absorbed everything and kept on coming. I loved everything about that fight.”
Ferguson bounced back from that early point deduction to put Barboza away with a brabo choke 2:54 into the second round of their memorable lightweight encounter, making him just one of two fighters in promotion history with two triumphs via brabo choke. More importantly, it was Ferguson’s seventh consecutive UFC triumph at lightweight. Only current No. 1 contender Donald Cerrone, who faces Rafael dos Anjos for 155-pound gold next weekend, has a longer active winning streak.
While “El Cucuy” isn’t necessarily lobbying for the next title shot, he wouldn’t shy away from the opportunity, either.
“I finished Edson Barboza with a D’arce choke. What else do you want?” he said on FS1. “He’s very hard to take down. I took some of his most powerful shots, and I kept coming forward. I’m the boogeyman out there. I’m top-five now. These guys are going to have to work a hell of a lot harder to fight me and beat me. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”
Ferguson did not attend Friday’s post-fight press conference, as he was transported to a nearby hospital to receive a CT scan. Even if the “TUF 13” winner is not anointed the next No. 1 contender following the conclusion of dos Anjos-Cerrone, he has a plan on clearing a path through the rest of the lightweight division.
“I’m gonna hunt down the No.5 guy,” he said. “I don’t even know who it is, but I’m gonna scare the s--- out of him and make sure that No. 4 wants me.”
Still, a matchup of winning streaks with Cerrone, should “Cowboy” win at UFC on Fox 17, sounds pretty damn appealing.
“I’ll take him. I’ll take whoever they put in front of me,” Ferguson said. “What looks better with that ‘Ultimate Fighter’ plaque that’s on my wall? That belt. And I won’t stop until I get it.”