Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC 256 blew the roof off UFC APEX last Saturday night (Dec. 12, 2020) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds including Ronaldo Souza, who was finished in the very first round. And Junior dos Santos, who suffered a knockout defeat at the hands of Cyril Gane (highlights).
But which fighter is likely suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Coming into his co-main event scrap against Charles Oliveira, “El Cucuy” had a lot riding on the line. Not only was he looking to get back on track and erase the memory of his brutal technical knockout loss to Just Gaethje at UFC 249, but the possibility of fighting for the undisputed Lightweight title was at stake. Even if Ferguson does consider it nothing more than a “wet dream.”
But things didn’t quite pan out for “El Cucuy,” as he found himself on the end of a second straight dominant defeat, as “Do Bronx” took it to the former interim champion from the opening bell. Not only did Oliveira fight on the ground, nearly ending the fight with an tight armbar — he controlled the fight in the striking department. It’s not something many people do against Tony.
Many felt Ferguson would come in reenergized and be the “Cucuy” of old after getting battered and bruised by Justin Gaethje this past May. But that simply wasn’t the case, as even UFC President Dana White touched on the possibility that Ferguson’s best days inside the Octagon are behind him after getting outclassed by “Do Bronx” for 15 minutes.
“Of course that’s possible, but Tony needs to go home and spend the holidays with his family and take some time off and think about what he wants to do next year and we’ll see what’s next for him,” White said during the post-fight press conference. “But yes, every time you fight in this business, that’s always possible.”
Let’s not get it twisted, it wasn’t so much what Ferguson did wrong, it’s what Oliveira did right after proving to the combat sports world that he does belong to be mentioned right along the best 155-pound fighters on the planet.
It’s hard to come to the conclusion that Ferguson is past his prime because his losses came against two of the very best, and losing to Gaethje and Oliveira is nothing to hang his head low over. That being said, the fact remains that “El Cucuy” will have a ton of pressure and a lot to prove going into his next fight.
The former champ will likely take White’s advice and take an extended break in order to try to get back to what brought him to the top. He’s still a Top 5 Lightweight, so when he does return, he deserves a top opponent.
That said, it’s really hard to gauge where the division will be five or six months from now. For my money, I’d like to see Ferguson take on the loser of the upcoming bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Ferguson and McGregor have history, and he and Poirier were almost booked to fight at UFC 254.
Either way the ball rolls, we get a great scrap and Ferguson gets his man.