Tony Ferguson managed to put together one of the most impressive winning streaks in the history of the UFC, but he never actually had the opportunity to compete for an undisputed title.
Of course, there were two different championship fights scheduled against Khabib Nurmagomedov during that incredible run. But injuries and a pandemic prevented either of them from actually happening.
Still, it’s tough to argue with Ferguson’s frustration given that he won 12 fights in a row and watched other lightweights take a far less dangerous road on the way to the title shot. As he prepares to make his return at UFC 256 this weekend, Ferguson isn’t sure he’ll ever get the chance to compete for a UFC title again.
“That title’s a wet dream,” Ferguson said during the UFC 256 media day on Wednesday. “Like that Farmer’s Insurance commercial, ‘You almost got it, keep it going, we’re just going to keep dangling it in front of you.’ I don’t know what the problem is. I don’t know if it’s because I’m Mexican. I’m an American with Mexican parts. 12 fight win streak, eight years in the making before women’s sports were even in [the UFC]. Conor [McGregor] was on welfare. All these different things and I still didn’t earn a title shot.
“But I’m still sitting saying f**k the free world, just like Eminem. The most naked I’ve ever been my whole entire life. I’m still here. I’m still waiting. I’ve got the belt in my room. I could go after another belt but how much greed is that? I’ve got an Ultimate Fighter trophy. I’ve got a [Fighter’s Only] trophy. I’ve got a UFC belt. I’ve got medals and I’m Lord of the Rings with all my championship rings.”
After Justin Gaethje put an end to his win streak back in May, Ferguson was anxious to return to action to erase the bad taste of defeat from his mouth.
He was initially matched up against former interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 254, but neither fighter could come to terms with the promotion on a deal to make it happen. Poirier eventually moved onto a fight against Conor McGregor instead, which then left Ferguson without an opponent.
Ferguson then detailed how he tried to land a fight with former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, who just recently signed with the UFC, but that fell apart as well.
“UFC said that Chandler had a fight, and then Chandler said that he didn’t have a fight,” Ferguson explained. “Somewhere along the line, somebody was f**king lying. I’m sitting here tell you get your f**king facts straight.”
In the end, Ferguson was presented with a fight against Charles Oliveira, who is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak at lightweight including a submission victory against Kevin Lee in his previous outing.
While it wasn’t the fight he was initially pursuing, Ferguson said Oliveira was the only fighter willing to answer the call when the UFC was trying to secure a top-ranked opponent.
“Oliveira’s the only game opponent that wanted to fight,” Ferguson said. “Chandler doesn’t want to fight. Poirier doesn’t want to fight. McNuggets (Conor McGregor) ran and Tiramisu’s (Khabib Nurmagomedov) gone.
“You got these assh*les that were going to f*cking put these guys over top of me and want to move me back to No. 5. It happened before. I hate to say it but matchmaking is like a logarithm. I found it, I called it.”
Even if all goes well against Oliveira, Ferguson can’t be sure what will come next given the road he’s previously traveled. They just led to more and more non-title fights against every great lightweight – except the one with the belt.
“This is where we’re at today at UFC 256 – I’m the co-main event,” Ferguson said. “Nobody spoke up for me to get a title fight. A 12-fight win streak.
“What did I do wrong? Step on somebody’s toes? Did I speak up for myself? That was so bad right? This is funny to me.”