The UFC’s injury woes have been a major talking point in 2016, and one man who has often found himself in or around the centre of the conversation is top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson.
‘El Culcuy’ has suffered through a scarcely believable run of misfortune, which actually started towards the end of last year. Ferguson was scheduled to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale on December 11th in Las Vegas, but ‘The Eagle’ suffered a rib injury in October and was forced off the card.
In the end, things didn’t work out too badly for Ferguson, as he submitted replacement opponent Edson Barboza in the second round of one of the year’s most exciting and dramatic fights.
However, the Californian was never able to build on the momentum, as a fight with Michael Johnson scheduled for UFC 196 in March was scrapped when Johnson withdrew after learning that he required shoulder surgery.
Ferguson was subsequently rescheduled to fight Nurmagomedov at UFC on Fox 19 in April, but this time he was the one forced to pull out, citing issues with his lungs.
Once he was cleared to return, Ferguson was matched against the in-form and dangerous submission specialist Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night 91 on July 13th. But, of course, Chiesa withdrew earlier this week after suffering a back injury in training.
The 32-year-old will remain on this card however, as the UFC have called in Landon Vannata to replace Chiesa. Vannata is 8-0 as a professional, but the Jackson-Wink prospect will be venturing in to the octagon for the first time.
It’s hardly an ideal situation for Ferguson. Back in December when he scored the signature win of his career thus far, against Barboza, he probably foresaw big things just around the corner. Instead he has been inactive for over six months and his first fight back will be against a promotional debutant.
Oh, and he has also been demoted to the co-main event slot on the card. A bantamweight bout between John Lineker and Michael McDonald will now headline the Sioux Falls show.