A victory over Donald Cerrone tomorrow night (Sat., June 8, 2019) at UFC 238 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside United Center in Chicago, Ill., will push Tony Ferguson’s current lightweight win streak to 12 and line him up for a long-awaited title shot later this year, right?
Not so fast. According to UFC president Dana White, Ferguson, who hasn’t lost inside of the Octagon since dropping a decision to Michael Johnson back in 2012, is not guaranteed the next shot at the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier, which is scheduled to go down this September at UFC 242.
Instead, White remains non-committal about the UFC’s lightweight title picture as a whole.
“I can’t say that’s gonna happen,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto earlier this week. “Anything is possible. I don’t know who is gonna come out of that fight banged up, what’s gonna happen to them, and everything else, so we’ll see.”
Why the uncertainty? While White has never been one to play matchmaker before fights actually play out his inability to confirm the next lightweight top contender probably has something to do with the looming return of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who remains “retired.”
McGregor has been linked to a few different fights since his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov back at UFC 229 last October, but the Irishman seems to be holding out for a rematch against “Eagle.” That’s all well and good, but a potential return for McGregor could mean Ferguson, or even Cerrone, will get jumped in line for a shot at gold.
“What did I say leading up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight? [That he may never fight again]. Did I not say that? And how many times has he fought since then? Once,” White said of McGregor. “Conor is in a very unique position as a fighter. He has tons of money. His whiskey business is off the charts. Conor now has the ability to be very calculated, sit back, and play the game the way he wants to. There’s so much more to this then people speculate....”
“Conor 100 percent believes he can beat Khabib. He wants the rematch, he feels he deserves the rematch before anybody else. So we’ve got to see how these fights play out. This weekend is a very big, important fight in that whole division and what’s gonna happen. Then in September the Khabib fight will play out in Abu Dhabi. Then we’ll see what’s next.”
We don’t want to put words into the mouth of White, but if we’re reading between the lines this means McGregor could decide to return to action at the end of the year and somehow wiggle his way into a rematch with Khabib. That’s crazy to consider mainly due to the fact that “Notorious” has competed in just one MMA fight in nearly three years. To bypass a deserving contender like Ferguson, who would command a legendary 12-fight win streak with a victory over “Cowboy” this weekend, would be preposterous.
That said, McGregor brings in the money more than any other fighter in the sport today so UFC is going to pull extra strings for him moving forward. We’ll just have to sit back, enjoy some fights over the next few months, and see how this loaded lightweight title picture plays out.
How crazy is it that we didn’t even discuss surging lightweight contender Justin Gaethje?
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 238 fight card tomorrow night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the ESPN+ PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
For much more on UFC 238 click here.