When news broke late last night (Fri., Feb. 22, 2019) that Max Holloway will be putting his featherweight crown on ice to challenge Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236 this April, fight fans were both excited and a little bit confused.
While a rematch between Holloway and Poirier is sure to produce fireworks, as well as give “Blessed” a chance to move up in weight and capture his second UFC title, it seemed as if top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson was passed over without second thought.
It may have looked that way initially, but UFC president Dana White revealed in his interview with ESPN that the promotion offered Ferguson the first shot at an interim lightweight title fight with Holloway. Ferguson reportedly turned the offer down, forcing UFC to move on and give Poirier the title shot before he packed his bags for good.
Ferguson released the following tweet earlier this week that leads fans to believe he wanted no part of another interim title fight.
I Have Been Offered A Fight, But Not Sure If It Meets Our Standards Crew. We Deserve Better For The Amount Of Work & Supoort We Put In. Team El Cucuy- Champ Shit Only @AudieAttar @ParadigmSM pic.twitter.com/BPw9mJSH2t— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) February 20, 2019
“El Cucuy” also took to Instagram following the Holloway-Poirier fight announcement to deliver the following message:
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We Took Some Unneeded Damage This Past Year. Recovery From The Knee Surgery & Battling Through Adversity Really Put A Damper On The Overall Mood These Last Few Months. We’re Working Harder To Be Better Than Yesterday Crew- I Make Lots Of Mistakes, Nobody’s Perfect Have A Great Weekend, Be Safe & Stay Warm We Got Work To Do
“We Took Some Unneeded Damage This Past Year,” wrote Ferguson. “Recovery From The Knee Surgery & Battling Through Adversity Really Put A Damper On The Overall Mood These Last Few Months. We’re Working Harder To Be Better Than Yesterday Crew- I Make Lots Of Mistakes, Nobody’s Perfect Have A Great Weekend, Be Safe & Stay Warm We Got Work To Do.”
Ferguson, who is coming off a TKO win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 229 in his return from knee surgery, is the most deserving contender in the lightweight division today. Not only has the 35-year-old won 11 fights in a row but “El Cucuy” actually claimed the interim lightweight title back in 2017 with a submission win over Kevin Lee. Ferguson was eventually stripped of that belt, but he has already proven to come through in the biggest of spots.
Not to mention Ferguson’s long history with Khabib that would have setup a huge grudge match if the two had met later this year, especially in a potential title unification bout.
In any case, UFC can’t make someone fight if they don’t feel like it’s the right move. That seems to be the case with Ferguson as the streaking lightweight contender believes his worth is directly tied to a shot at the undisputed title, which is currently held by “The Eagle.”
If Ferguson holds his ground and sits out until he gets a shot at the real belt, fight fans may not see “El Cucuy” for quite some time. Maybe it’s time to dust this star off and give Ferguson a matchup worthwhile.