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Dana White on Tony Ferguson: ‘10 out of 10 fighters tap to that armbar’

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The UFC president was in awe of Ferguson’s mental fortitude, but that didn’t stop him for questioning whether the best days of “El Cucuy” are behind him.

UFC 256: Ferguson v Oliveira Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

While we are now apparently in full blown debate mode on whether Tony Ferguson is done as a top tier lightweight in the UFC, there’s no denying the toughness of “El Cucuy.”

Ferguson managed to survive an endless onslaught of violence and submission attempts from ascendant contender Charles Oliveira at UFC 256, making it to the final bell. That’s something he didn’t pull off in his last fight against Justin Gaethje, who stopped him with a minute and a half to go in their five round interim title fight back in May. This loss now puts Tony, who seemed so invincible in 2019, on a two fight losing skid with eight straight rounds worth of getting whomped.

Once again, the only positive to put on all of this is how Ferguson managed to hang in there. If you want to crystalize that sentiment down to a single moment, look no further than this armbar at the end of the first from Oliveira.

We still don’t know how Tony Ferguson didn’t tap to this. We still don’t know how injured his arm was after. As the UFC 256 commentators noted, we may never know since Tony is the kind of guy who won’t ever tell us.

Mental toughness aside, there seems to be a line drawn in the sand now between ‘old Tony’ and current Tony, something UFC president Dana White noted during the post-event press conference.

“There was some debates going into that fight, I thought we were going to see the old Tony,” White said. “I thought that the last fight [against Gaethje] he was affected by weight cutting.”

“I mean 10 out of 10 people tap to that armbar,” White added. “The fact that he even made it through the armbar is unbelievable and just a testament to how tough and durable and crazy Tony Ferguson is.”

Ferguson is now 36 years old. He came into the UFC in 2011. He has spent the past five years at the top of the lightweight division. Is it simply possible that his time amongst the elite at lightweight is finally over?

“Of course that’s possible,” White said. “But Tony needs to go home and spend the holidays with his family, take some time off and think about what he wants to do next year. We’ll see what’s next for him. Every time you fight in this business, that’s always possible.”

But don’t come at Dana White lumping him in with other aging legends like Ronaldo Souza and Junior dos Santos and talking about retirement.

“I think Tony’s still a couple fights away from making any crazy decisions like that.”