Tony Ferguson was willing to save the UFC 279 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last weekend in Las Vegas, which fell into peril when Khamzat Chimaev missed the welterweight limit for his Nate Diaz fight. But “El Cucuy” — a self-described “company man” — wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to capitalize on his newfound leverage.
That’s why the former UFC interim lightweight champion told UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell, the conductor for last Friday’s orchestra of chaos, that dumping Li Jingliang in favor of Nate Diaz (plus an additional two rounds) would require extra incentive, starting with a spin around the block in Campbell’s pricey Bentley.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto paints the picture:
Ferguson arrived at the Apex himself not long after this meeting, ready to weigh in for his originally scheduled welterweight bout against Li. He drove himself to the Apex and on his way in, he noticed a beautiful Bentley sitting in the parking lot. Ferguson is something of a car guy — he appreciates a good ride when he sees one — and he admired the Bentley on his way in.
After Ferguson weighed in, while everyone was still at the Apex, he went back to visit with Campbell. Some say he was half-joking, others say he was completely serious: He told Campbell he really needed to think about it more, and that he would probably do his best thinking behind the wheel of that expensive Bentley parked outside.
Campbell threw Ferguson the keys and said, “You take the car for as long as you want. I don’t give a s--- about the car.” About 45 minutes later, Ferguson and the Bentley were back, and he agreed to move into the main event.
Fortunately he didn’t wrap it around a utility pole.
Ferguson would go on to lose to Diaz by way of fourth-round submission but his decision to play ball will undoubtedly keep him in the dugout for the foreseeable future, despite the fact “El Cucuy” has dropped five straight. The former lightweight fell to No. 15 in the official rankings and it remains to be seen if he returns to welterweight for his next outing.
As for Jingliang, he was paired off against Daniel Rodriguez, who was originally booked to face Kevin Holland at a catchweight of 180 pounds, right up until “Trailblazer” got the call to instead fight Chimaev in the co-main event. Jingliang and Holland would join Ferguson in the loss column inside T-Mobile Arena but likely made off like bandits in the process.
For complete UFC 279 results and fallout click here.