Fans Fear For Ferguson As Welterweight Return Booked

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Dana White announced the future of fan-favorite Tony Ferguson last night at the UFC 278 post-fight press conference. Following hints from Ferguson mid-week, it was confirmed that he will move up in weight to face Li Jingliang at UFC 279 on September 10th. 

Ferguson was last seen in May when he suffered a highlight reel knockout loss to Michael Chandler. Despite the devastating finish in the second round, Ferguson’s performance in the opening five minutes was the best he’d looked in years. Ferguson makes the move to welterweight in hopes of a possible late-career resurgence.

Jingliang is 2-2 from his recent outings, but against tough competition. He bounced back from a humiliating loss at the hands of Khamzat Chimaev in his last fight, knocking out Muslim Salikov in the second round to claim a Performance of the Night bonus. Jingliang is currently ranked 14th at welterweight.

The bout will mark Tony Ferguson’s first appearance in the weight class since he won ‘The Ultimate Fighter 13’ over a decade ago in 2011. He dropped down to lightweight immediately after the finale of the show where he went on an astonishing 12-fight win streak, becoming interim champion in the process. Ferguson’s last win came over the now-retired Donald Cerrone in the summer of 2019.

A defeat for Ferguson would put him on a five-fight losing streak, making a win absolutely essential if he intends to continue fighting in the promotion. He has recently began training at Jackson-Wink MMA, and plans to conduct his camps there going forward.

Fans are unhappy with the matchup

Public opinion about the matchup has been decisive. The consensus is the fight is unnecessary; doesn’t make much sense, and shouldn’t have been booked for Ferguson’s sake. Fellow fighters and fans alike have been urging Ferguson to hang up the gloves since his hard-to-watch beating against Justin Gaethje, and those pleas have only gotten louder. 

The UFC already faced criticism for the UFC 279 lineup upon the announcement of Khamzat Chimaev vs Nate Diaz, with many believing the bout is a dangerous mismatch intended to punish Diaz and elevate Chimaev. This booking is not likely to improve that sentiment. The mob calling for Ferguson’s retirement won’t be satisfied to see him in the cage against a bigger, stronger opponent.

The brutal end of a legendary career is always sad to see in combat sports, but Ferguson very much seems the type to go out on his sword. If this does turn out to be his final UFC bout, it wouldn’t be shocking to see ‘El Cucoy’ continue his career elsewhere. Regardless, at 38 years of age, every fan of the sport is wishing him safety and good health heading into UFC 279.

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