After suffering his second consecutive one-sided defeat on Saturday at UFC 256, many wondered if the end could be near for Tony Ferguson, but the 36-year-old former interim UFC lightweight champion doesn’t seem ready to hang up the gloves just yet.
Looking to bounce back from a fifth-round stoppage loss to Justin Gaethje last May, Ferguson was matched up against surging contender Charles Oliveira and “El Cucuy” simply had no answers for the Brazilian, as he was controlled in the grappling department for the entirety of the bout before losing a clear unanimous decision.
“I felt flat,” Ferguson wrote in a statement posted to his official Instagram account following the loss. “I went out and welcomed the attack instead of defend. The warm-up time in the back for UFC hasn’t been the same since pre-COVID. Still no excuses. Times change and so do people.”
From the opening bell, it was clear that Oliveira’s grappling would be the difference-maker in the bout, and the fact that Ferguson even lasted all three rounds is impressive enough given how close “Do Bronx” was to ending the fight with an armbar in the closing seconds of the first round.
Ferguson, a skilled grappler himself, seemingly confirmed that his arm isn’t too damaged and acknowledged Oliveira’s skills, comparing him to a “wet blanket”.
“Chuck was looking to take my back or go for the armbar as soon as we hit the mat. Thus I didn’t worry about the mount,” Ferguson said. “Kid was slick but so am I. I was looking for the knockout standing and D’Arce (choke) from bottom position once we hit (jiu-jitsu) transitions. It was fun fighting against a wet blanket. Mark my words, that scenario won’t happen again. Period.
“My arm is aright, the armbar was really tight.”
Given his age, the damage he’s taken in his last two losses, and the stacked nature of the 155-pound division, it’s certainly understandable why some would question whether or not Ferguson can be the same fighter who once put together an incredible 12-fight winning streak.
One of his strengths, however, has always been his mental toughness and he confirmed that he will continue his pursuit towards “greatness”.
“My search for that epic word called ‘greatness’ isn’t over,” he wrote. “… We are far from being retired.”
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.