Tony Ferguson could not have made a stronger case for himself.
Ferguson bested former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Rafael dos Anjos across five rounds, earning a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 98 “Ferguson vs. Dos-Anjos” main event on Saturday at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. The 32-year-old Oxnard, California, native drew 48-47 marks from all three judges and walked away with his ninth consecutive victory -- a record for the UFC’s 155-pound weight class.
Dos Anjos was game but could not match Ferguson’s pace, output or creativity. The Brazilian left the Octagon with a cut near his right eye and damage to his nose, as he suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in more than six years. Ferguson threw everything he had at the ex-champion, from hooks, leg kicks and uppercuts to spinning backfists, knees and standing elbows. According to FightMetric data, “El Cucuy” uncorked 121 more strikes (402-281) and connected on 74 more strikes (200-126) than dos Anjos. He also denied all five of the Brazilian’s takedown attempts.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Tony Ferguson vs. Eddie Alvarez-Conor McGregor winner: Ferguson may not be the only fighter with a claim as the No. 1 contender at 155 pounds, but consistency and durability should count for something when weighing the options. During his nine-fight winning streak, which spans more than three years, “The Ultimate Fighter 13” winner has beaten dos Anjos, Lando Vannata, Edson Barboza, Josh Thomson, Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo, Danny Castillo, Katsunori Kikuno and Mike Rio. Six of those fights ended with finishes. Alvarez will defend the lightweight championship against McGregor in the UFC 205 main event on Nov. 12, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship touches down in New York City for the first time.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov-Michael Johnson loser: Not long ago, dos Anjos was in the discussion as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, alongside Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson. However, back-to-back defeats to Ferguson and Alvarez have curbed some of the enthusiasm surrounding the Brazilian. Now 32 years of age and with 21 UFC appearances behind him, one has to wonder if dos Anjos’ best days have come and gone, especially in such a cutthroat weight class. The unbeaten Nurmagomedov will take on Johnson as part of the UFC 205 undercard on Nov. 12 in Madison Square Garden.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Frankie Edgar-Jeremy Stephens winner: Lamas remains a significant factor in the UFC’s featherweight division. The MMA Masters standout withstood a near-submission to tap an overweight Charles Oliveira with a second-round guillotine choke. Lamas, 34, has won eight of his 11 bouts inside the Octagon, losing only to Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Max Holloway -- elite fighters with a combined record of 59-9. Edgar and Stephens will lock horns at UFC 205 on Nov. 12.
Beneil Dariush vs. Francisco Trinaldo: Dariush continues to distance himself from a disappointing April 16 submission loss to Michael Chiesa. The Kings MMA standout recorded his second straight win with a hard-fought unanimous decision over former M-1 Global champion Rashid Magomedov. Dariush holds an 8-2 mark in the UFC and could conceivably inch towards the top of the lightweight division by stringing together a few more victories. Trinaldo finds himself on a career-best seven-fight winning streak and last appeared at UFC Fight Night 95 on Sept. 24, when he opened a gruesome gash on Paul Felder’s eyebrow with an elbow strike and forced a second-round stoppage.
Alexa Grasso vs. Maryna Moroz: Universally recognized as one of the top prospects in the sport, Grasso made a successful leap from Invicta Fighting Championships to the UFC. The undefeated 23-year-old cruised to a unanimous decision over Heather Clark in her Octagon debut, improving to 9-0. While Grasso seemed to ease her foot off the gas in the second and third rounds, she was nevertheless impressive against the Xtreme Couture rep. Moroz has responded to her UFC Fight Night 74 loss to Valerie Letourneau with two straight wins over Cristina Stanciu and Daniell Taylor. The 25-year-old Ukrainian burst on the scene in April 2015, when she submitted Joanne Calderwood with first-round armbar.