Tony Ferguson managed to solidify himself once again as the #1 contender to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s throne with a victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 238.
However, it was a win that did not come without its fair share of controversy and with that, a plethora of supporters have started calling for a rematch.
Do not get me wrong, it would be a lot of fun and there are more than enough reasons to give fans a second helping.
In all honesty, under different circumstances, I’d even be happy to see it, although I do think that Ferguson was starting to find his rhythm and would have likely finished Cerrone in the third round had the fight continued.
The controversy that surrounded the late shot after the bell and the impact it may or may not have had on the unfortunate end to what was a thrilling fight was exactly that, unfortunate.
In the heat of the moment, Ferguson took aim at Cerrone and managed to find his target. The bell had clearly sounded at that point and yes, it was a very late shot.
But let’s cut the s**t, Cowboy made the mistake that led to the fight being called.
We’ve seen late shots before, perhaps most notably from Aldo/Mendes II and Holm/De Randamie, ones that had an even greater effect on the fight itself.
Cerrone, in the post-fight, admitted that he had made the rookie mistake of blowing his nose while it was clearly damaged – something that caused his eye to swell up.
Speaking to the media (via MMAJunkie), Donald apologized for a move that was not indicative of the veteran that he is.
“Man, I just wanted to keep fighting. I was just asking, ‘Can you just push the air back down?’ You’re right, I shouldn’t have blown my nose.
“I’m a veteran, I’m old school, and I should’ve known that. But I did, and I humbly couldn’t finish the fight, and I apologize.”
Ferguson cracked him late, it happened. Maybe they should have taken a point there and then. Perhaps the ref should have been quicker to separate the two fighters.
Who knows, but based on the two-rounds we saw, that’s a TKO win for Ferguson.
If that late shot had not happened and Cerrone then blew his nose causing the same outcome, nothing else would be said.
It’s not the most satisfying end to a fight we’ve ever seen but in my view, it was an end nonetheless.
Tony Ferguson seemed to be in a newfound state of groundedness during fight-week, thanking the media for their part in supporting him through his turbulent time of late.
He was one of the first to call for a rematch between him and Cerrone and admirably told UFC colour-commentator Joe Rogan to speak to Cowboy first post-fight.
Tony’s last year or so has seen him go through a lot, both inside and outside of the cage and I believe his decision to offer Cerrone another fight was one that came from a sense of helplessness about his position.
The man was stripped of the interim-title he won at UFC 216, stripped under rather questionable circumstances, something that has clearly been a source of massive annoyance for him in the time since.
When he returned to face the media at UFC 229, he was a picture of frustration as he slammed the UFC for taking what was rightfully his and disrespecting him in the manner that they had.
A twelve fight winning-streak is the type of form befitting of a long-time champion.
Tony has never fought for an undisputed title.
Yes, there have been freak injuries that have not helped his cause, but make no mistake, El Cucuy has been passed up several times now, most recently at UFC 229 – a card that he also featured on.
Having the streaking divisional top-contender fighting fit and ready in a co-main event slot while the champ defends his belt against a guy with a 1-0 record in the division is an odd one, isn’t it?
And, of course, Dana White was quick to jump on the side of those asking for a rematch post-fight, giving a characteristically combative answer when asked by the media about the possibility Tony being passed up for a title-shot once again after UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier is through.
Was it because he genuinely feels as though the UFC 238 Fight of the Night was worth running back? Perhaps.
Although, if you ask me, a matchup between Ferguson and Cerrone – if it happens later this year – would leave a clear path for the UFC to give their most-prized asset the shot at redemption he so clearly craves.
Dana has been seemingly more and more enthused by the idea of running back Khabib vs. McGregor, telling reporter with an increasing level of excitement that he is interested in making that fight a reality.
I would not be surprised in the slightest if Conor McGregor fought Khabib in his next outing.
For a while, it did seem as though Donald Cerrone himself was the perfect man to test the Irishman’s elite-level ambitions after a patchy run of late but as you all know, the UFC are in the business of making money and nothing, not even McGregor/Diaz III, will make more money than a second-helping of the promotion’s most vicious rivalry yet.
That ESPN deal was a fantastic one for the UFC in the long-term, but money talks, and what better way to help your new partners see a solid return on their investment than cashing in your chips while the narrative is still fresh?
I’m quite worried that 2019 will be another year that Tony Ferguson spends without a shot at the belt.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena