When Tony Ferguson submitted Kevin Lee at UFC 216, not only did he claim the UFC interim lightweight title, he also put himself at the very top of the list of future opponents for lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Ferguson’s performance on Saturday was so impressive that even though the general consensus is that the UFC had been targeting McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III for the lightweight champion’s return, UFC President Dana White proclaimed afterwards that a title unification bout “has to happen.” A title unification bout would leave Nate Diaz out in the cold and, according to some that’s all part of the plan.
On the most recent episode of his Believe You Me podcast, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping suggested that White was pushing the Ferguson fight as a way to hardball Diaz into demanding less money for a trilogy bout with McGregor.
“Here’s the thing, Diaz is saying he wants $20 million to fight Conor for the third time, which sounds insane,” said Bisping. “It is insane but realistically, if that was boxing, for an event that size, a fight that big for the PPV numbers, I feel like the boxer would get that money or close to it. . .
“But 20 million, I think what he’s doing there is pricing himself out of the market, simple as that. That’s why Dana is pushing the Ferguson fight. Dana, by going out there at the press conference and saying publicly that Ferguson has to fight Conor, that takes the momentum away from Diaz so that’s gonna soften his stance on the 20 million.”
Diaz hasn’t fought since his pair of bouts with McGregor last year and currently seems in no hurry to step back into the cage. It’s a tactic that Diaz has used before, renegotiating his deal with the UFC before accepting a rematch with McGregor last year after he submitted the then-featherweight champion. Bisping suggests that Diaz could be doing the same thing here but that this time it may not work out for him because Ferguson’s presence gives the UFC a similarly lucrative backup plan.
“Maybe [Diaz]’s just using that as a negotiation tactic but I think if he doesn’t get what he wants he’ll say, ‘F**k it, I’m not fighting then,’ and unfortunately, there is another good fight there with Ferguson vs. McGregor. While it doesn’t have the history of the Diaz-McGregor fight, that’s still a good fight and a lot of people are gonna pay to see that and that is a good backup plan for the UFC and it is the legitimate fight. Especially in the era where people are now talking s**t about all these interim titles, it looks like a good PR move for the UFC as well.”
And should Ferguson actually get the McGregor fight, that could be bad news for Diaz. Much of Diaz’s bargaining power comes from being the most compelling foil to the biggest star in the sport, but that could all come crashing down should Ferguson beat McGregor and, according to Bisping, that’s a very possible outcome. The middleweight champion even says that Ferguson is a tougher fight for McGregor than a third bout with Diaz would be.
“For sure [Ferguson is a tougher fight than Diaz]. The problem is for Tony Ferguson is that he does get hit. We saw that against Kevin Lee, he had his chin up in the air a few times and Kevin Lee exposed that. Conor, love him or hate him, the guy can fight and he can strike and he can box. We saw that against Mayweather and if Kevin Lee connected with [Ferguson], sure as hell Conor will connect as well.
“The problem that Conor has is the same problem that Kevin has, his gas tank isn’t the best. That’s not me being negative, it’s just that history has shown that. But Tony can weather the storm. Can he weather the storm in the way that Nate Diaz did? Can he take those shots? I guess we’ve got to see the fight to find out but it’s certainly an interesting matchup and you can make a lot of cases for both guys to win.”
Short. Owen Roddy dismisses Tony Ferguson’s chances against Conor McGregor.
The best UFC content and this week the music builds all the way up to the Mighty Mouse trap.
Free fights from DWTNCS.
Tony on TMZ.
Paulie still out here, holding down that corner.
Beatdown. UFC 216 fallout and Alliance MMA President Robert Haydak.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Mark Hunt went OFF.
. "I'm disappointed that I have been withdrawn from the fight, I have passed all medicals 2 days ago. And spent 100,000 on camp. The truth is the legal case I have filed has caused me to be withdrawn. The interview has been taken out of context and want to reassure all my fans, I slur my words only when I have a drink I'm fit and healthy, and would have understood if the UFC requested a medical to ensure my safety, however this is total bullshit fuck you Dana, you've always hated me you dog"
Tony don’t want these problems.
What's ur deal?— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 10, 2017
Also, Tony saying he can make featherweight is ridiculous.
Tony just talking to everyone now that he’s strapped up.
Duquesnoy made a statement about his loss this weekend.
Je tiens à vous remercier car je sais combien vous étiez à avoir pris la peine de vous lever le week-end dernier pour assister à mon combat • Sachez que c'est un honneur pour moi d'avoir généré un intérêt national et un tel engouement pour un événement qui a dépassé les frontières du MMA le temps d'une nuit • Le malheur portant en lui le signe de la béatitude ; je vous assure que les enseignements ont été tirés et la ré-organisation complète de l'entrainement est d'ores et déjà planifiée • Je suis en pleine forme physique et mentale et il me tarde d'aterrir en France pour vous rencontrer, échanger et partager autour de ces valeurs de progrès que véhiculent le sport. Concentré sur le voyage et pas uniquement la destination. Merci à toutes et à tous * * * I want to thank you for the support over the past few weeks, during the fight week and especially after the fight • I'd like you to know that it is an honor for me, coming from France, to be able to live and to transcend myself through my art in the world's largest MMA organization. • Thanks to the UFC, which has facilitated my development in American society. I am now able to live from what I love, evolving into a complete profession. • Misfortune bearing the sign of bliss ; I assure you that the lessons have been learned and the re-organization of the training is already planned. I am in perfect physical and mental shape and I will meet you at an upcoming event where the result will not be the same. Thank you @ma2_media • by @mastroianni_lv
@003_OSP Let's make it happen Dec 30th in Las Vegas - FOTN ✨— Ilir Latifi (@Latifimma) October 11, 2017
GSP training with some monsters. Oh and Tonon starting MMA the right way.
My MMA journey begins, not a bad crew to start it with. Very excited to help out with #GSPvsBisbing camp #Repost @georgesstpierre (@get_repost) ・・・ Im lucky to have an all star team to train with today. Thanks to @FrancisCarmont, @yukinoriakazawa, @mark_cerrone, @carl_massaro, @jakeshields, @danaherjohn and @garrytonon!
Win or learn.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
1997: Pride FC held its inaugural event, Pride 1, which saw Rickson Gracie defeat Nobuhiko Takada with an armbar.
1998: One year later, Rickson submitted Takada with an armbar again, this time at Pride 4.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
Who is a tougher fight for Conor McGregor?
This poll is closed
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.