With 12 straight wins on his resume, Tony Ferguson feels it’s about time he gets to call some shots in his career.
The former interim champion put on another showcase on Saturday night as he battered Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for the better part of 10 minutes before earning a second-round TKO when the doctors wouldn’t allow the former title contender to continue after his right eye swelled shut from all the damage he was taking.
It was later revealed that Cerrone suffered a broken orbital bone and while Ferguson was critical of the ending immediately after the fight was over, he was ultimately satisfied with his performance in victory.
“Going into the third round, I don’t think it would have been any different,” Ferguson said at the UFC 238 post-fight press conference. “I was going to pick him apart with jabs, I was going to hit him to the body. Literally I just saw his nose go from red to clear from red to clear from all the shots.
“It was a good fight. I’m excited about the outcome.”
While he was open to a potential rematch against Cerrone as he stood in the Octagon, Ferguson appears ready to move back into title contention after his most recent shot at becoming champion was taken away last year when he suffered a freak knee injury while promoting a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been scheduled to meet each other on four separate occasions in the past and yet they’ve never actually fought. Ferguson hopes that changes in the near future and if he’s not facing the undefeated Russian, then he’s happy to welcome Conor McGregor back to the UFC as well.
“If Dustin Poirier don’t do it, I’m going to do it,” Ferguson said. “Tiramisu [Khabib Nurmagomedov] needs an ass whooping. He needs two to the stomach from me. If it’s McNuggets [Conor McGregor] for a money fight or whatever. He’s an athlete, too. I know the division misses him inside here. I’m pretty sure he misses the fight game, too.
“I want to keep winning. What sounds better than 12 [wins in a row]? 13 — but it sounds a hell of a lot better with a title shot in that 13th victory.”
Before Ferguson can potentially get his hands on Nurmagomedov, the champion first has to face current interim lightweight titleholder Dustin Poirier in September at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
Poirier earned the shot with a unanimous decision over featherweight champion Max Holloway in April, which was his fourth in a row overall including three by knockout or TKO. Despite those credentials, Ferguson believes Poirier has some bad habits that will come back to haunt him when he faces Nurmagomedov.
“I see Dustin he plays a lot against the ropes. He does a lot of boxing and he’s got some good hands but the kid needs to get his back off the ropes,” Ferguson said. “At my academy, I have a full 20x20 canvas but I don’t have any ropes around it and do that for a reason so I don’t get on my back on the ropes.
“Once you get your back against the cage and you start doing that, Khabib’s going to put that pressure. He’s going to take you down, he’s going to double leg you, he’s going to mount you like that dummy and he’s going to play smash-and-grab. That’s how I see that playing out.”
Assuming Nurmagomedov is successful at UFC 242, Ferguson says he has a much different idea how a fight would play out against him. The same could be said for McGregor if Ferguson ever gets the chance to share the cage with him as well.
“If I were to fight Khabib, guaran-damn-tee you I would throw him from his feet to his back and beat him like in sambo like a five-point move in wrestling. That’s my background,” Ferguson said. “As far as McNuggets goes, I would love to stand toe-to-toe go with that dude.
“I respect him as an athlete. As a person, he’s kind of a douche. It’s improper 13, it literally is, and I got an attitude and I have a different agency right now, which is great. There’s no conflict of interest, that’s No. 1 and No. 2 is, I’m here to kick some ass. I ran out of bubble gum. We’re here to do business.”