If Conor McGregor thinks he needs a verbal sparring mate to provide the kind of business he's used to, Tony Ferguson has made it very clear he's been saving his A-game for what would be, by far, the biggest fight of his career.
Ferguson (24-3) captured the interim lightweight title by submitting Kevin Lee in the third round at Saturday's UFC 216 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In doing so, Ferguson seemed to solidify himself as the deserving opponent for lightweight champion McGregor, to unify the championship.
After Dana White made it clear that in his mind Ferguson was the right choice and the only choice, Ferguson started his campaign for what McGregor has tabbed in the past “red panty night” when it becomes official that someone will be McGregor's next opponent, because that means by far the biggest money fight any lighter weight fighter is going to get.
"I was saving all my good material for him," said Ferguson. "I didn't want to say anything against Kevin Lee. He was the only game opponent."
Ferguson noted that because both he and Lee came from the same background, as both wrestled at Grand Valley State College in Allendale, Mich., although not together as Ferguson is more than eight years older, he said he was never concerned Lee wouldn't make weight even with the scare on Friday morning.
Ferguson said that in his mind, now that he's the interim champion, that McGregor has two choices, defend it or relinquish the title, and either way he would be fine with McGregor's decision.
"I'll ankle pick him no problem," Ferguson said about a proposed fight. "I'll set him on his ass and everyone's the same size on the ground. Conor McGregor is going to be running away like Katsunori Kikuno. I'll get him on the ground and I'll finish him with a D'Arce choke or any choke I please.
"He poses no threat to me. That boy is scared. He's never mentioned my name one time. I've got 10 consecutive victories. I'm the interim champion.
"You can't run anymore. You're in check and I'm great in chess.
"This is chess. This is check. It's going to be checkmate. He needs to defend or vacate. Set it down. Just walk away. Then nobody will get hurt."
White had said that McGregor had indicated to him wanting to defend the title before the end of the year.
"Let's go next week," Ferguson said. "I'm not injured."