It’s been nine years since Tony Ferguson was last beaten in an MMA match and he doesn’t expect to lose anytime soon.
Ferguson put on a clinic in one of the featured bouts at UFC 238 on Saturday night, vanquishing fan favorite Donald Cerrone after two rounds. “El Cucuy” turned up the heat in the second round against “Cowboy” and began cracking him with kicks, elbows and punches repeatedly. Cerrone never quit and kept trying to turn the fight in his favor, but Ferguson was masterful and wound up getting the stoppage.
The end of their lightweight tussle came when referee Dan Miragliotta decided to end things in between rounds two and three. Cerrone (36-12, 1 NC) was hit by a right hook after the horn ended the second round, but with his right eye swelling and his nose possibly broken, “Cowboy” did the unthinkable and blew his nose in his corner. His right eye immediately closed and with the skin above and below the eye swollen like Tom’s thumb after he missed Jerry with a hammer, the veteran third man ended the battle.
“It’s not the way I wanted to win,” Ferguson said after the capacity crowd inside United Center in Chicago shared its displeasure for an anticlimactic ending. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t give the fans that third round. I’m pissed at myself because of that and I know he wanted to do it, too. If he wants to do it again, we can.”
There was some controversy surrounding the ending of the battle because Ferguson (25-3) clearly cracked “Cowboy” a full second after the horn ended the second. However, even though Miragliotta was heard clearly saying the fight didn’t end because of the late punch, many viewers squawked about how late the punch was.
“In the end of that round, going through a lot of emotions, just trying to get into it, I let a punch go at the buzzer,” he said. “I thought I hit him at the buzzer, it was on the other side of his face, not the side that was swollen. His nose was pretty much almost broken, and technically when you blow your nose, your eyes start to swell up.”
Ferguson appeared to be well on his way toward a victory, possibly one of the stoppage variety before their duel ended abruptly between rounds. “El Cucuy” was busting Cerrone up and the Denver fighter’s face was a bloody, swollen mask of violence. Ferguson tends to get stronger the longer his fights go and Ferguson said he could feel his foe withering before his eyes.
“In the second round, I saw his hands started to drop, my left hand started to land a lot more,” he said. “He didn’t have too many answers to the kicks, I saw his confidence starting to decrease.”
Ferguson, one of the more beloved fighters in MMA, has a treasure trove of options at his disposal. He’s perennially in the hunt for the lightweight title and held the interim belt at 155 pounds for a while. But injuries to both himself and his opponents have stunted his ascent to the top. The Team Death Clutch star wants a crack at reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, a man he was supposed to have fought multiple times, but injuries and illnesses have nixed their encounters every single time. However, if a chance at dethroning “The Eagle” isn’t up next, Ferguson rattled off a short list of other potential adversaries.
“If me and ‘Cowboy’ don’t fight again, I want that title shot,” he stated. “I’ve had that title, I feel that’s why it’s such an emotional roller coaster. I’ve increased my value after this fight tonight. If [Dustin] Poirier cannot do it, I’ll go to Abu Dhabi and do it myself. And if [Conor] McGregor wants to dance, I have a tune for him, too. So, regardless I’ll be ready.”