Things are not going well for Tony Ferguson right now. Not only is he coming off a third straight loss in a row, but he likely suffered a bad knee injury when he refused to tap to a heel hook from Beneil Dariush during said loss. Dariush tied up Ferguson on the ground for the majority of their match and caught the submission during a scramble.
He twisted ... and twisted ... and twisted some more. Ferguson grimaced in pain, but refused to tap. It didn’t save him from three 30-27 scores on the judges’ card, but it did prove once again how tough he is. Unfortunately, tough doesn’t pay the bills ... winning does.
“Time gets us all man,” UFC president Dana White said after UFC 262 (watch press conference here). “It’s definitely got to Tony.”
As for Dariush — now cemented as a Top 5-ranked fighter at Lightweight — he was still stunned by Ferguson’s decision not to tap at the post-fight press conference. So much so that it was the first thing he brought up after sitting down.
“How did he not tap to that heel hook?” Dariush asked. “His knee popped and it popped loud. I saw his face change just for a second and then went back to normal and then he started kicking me in the body. You know that upkick he hit me with? He hit me pretty good with that, I’ll give him that. And that’s my thought on the fight so far.
“Shock is the first thing, but then he just zombie mode started kicking me, I was like fine, I’ll come on top you jerk,” he continued. “I was thinking, ‘Man, let’s just end this’ and he was like, ‘Let’s continue this crap’ and I was like ... all right. I don’t know, it popped really bad. I mean more power to [Tony], I hope I could do that if it was necessary.”
As for how badly Ferguson might be hurt?
“I don’t even want to guess, I hope nothing even happened to his knee,” Beneil said. “Like, that’s where your ACL goes. When you go for a heel hook and it pops like that, your ACL could be gone. And I know he’s a superhuman, and we’ve heard it over and over again. But I don’t want that on anybody, I don’t want that recovery on anyone.”
Dariush also explained the decision to rely more on his grappling than his striking, a decision that did not endear him to the Houston crowd in round three.
“I had prepared for the stand up, I was going to show the world no matter who it is in terms of stand up,” he said. “I also told you I wanted to be a champion, and to be a champion you gotta stick to the gameplan. It’s not always being a bonus fighter, I’ve mentioned that before. And I really felt like I had such a big advantage in the grappling. And after the first round, at the end of the first round I felt his arms were tired. And I just said why am I going to strike with this guy when I have such an advantage here.”
The main thing regarding the fans is he just hopes they’re Ferguson fans for life.
“It’s not personal, but I will say this: they better not be fickle,” Dariush said. “The same fans that cheered Tony on, they better cheer for him every single fight. I better not see those stupid comments about Tony, ‘Ah he’s done,’ he’s this, he’s that. If you’re going to support him, support him through his whole career, don’t support him just for the day and now that he’s not doing well forget about him. So that’s the only thing. If you’re going to be a Tony fan be a Tony fan for life. I don’t want to see that crap about him, I see so much negative comments online it makes you want to stay away from it.”
Okay, but what was with the callout of Elon Musk, of all people?
“December, I order my [Tesla] car,” Beneil explained. “I order the safest car, the best car for my pregnant wife. And I’m still waiting! Elon, bro, what’s the deal man? You told me March, it’s coming up on June. I want my car. Come on bud. Big fan, big fan. But this is disrespect.”
Speaking of delays, it’s gonna be a while before Dariush steps back into the cage. He was very serious about taking some time off to be with his daughter, to the point where the Lightweight landscape may be very different when he returns.
“We just gotta pay attention to who’s gonna be there or available to me,” he said. “And I’m thinking like December or next year.”
For complete UFC 262: “Chandler vs. Oliveira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.