At UFC 262, Tony Ferguson looked to be far removed from the 12-bout winning streak he authored from 2013 to 2019.
“El Cucuy” was outgrappled and largely dominated over the course of three rounds in Saturday’s co-main event at the Toyota Center in Houston, as Beneil Dariush rolled to a unanimous decision triumph in their lightweight bout. That makes three straight defeats for “The Ultimate Fighter 13” winner, who also has fallen to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira in lopsided fashion over the course of the past year.
Ferguson took a tremendous amount of damage in the interim lightweight title against Gaethje at UFC 249 in May 2020 and he hasn’t been the same since. The Team Death Clutch representative is also 37 years old, which is an time when many high-level athletes begin to experience a decline. According to UFC president Dana White, both factors could have contributed to Ferguson’s recent woes.
“It could be (the Gaethje fight), it could be, just, time gets us all,” White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “It’s one of those things. I don’t know which one, or both. But unfortunately, it’s definitely hit Tony.”
That slump make for an uncertain future going forward for Ferguson. He’s no longer at the top of the lightweight division after three consecutive lopsided losses, but he’s a big enough name that matchmaking for him should remain interesting.
In the immediate aftermath of UFC 262, White was unable to map out a clear path for the former interim champion. He did, however, praise Ferguson’s toughness for continuing to fight after being caught in a tight heel hook from Dariush in the second round.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” White said. “He’s tough as hell though, man. He was in that heel hook and his ankle was definitely popping and his ankle the rest of the fight looked like a golf ball. Maybe even a baseball. He kept fighting. There’s no quit in that dude. He’s tough.
“He had a tough three rounds. He couldn’t get up from underneath Beneil, and he had a tough night. So I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
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