After Justin Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson in May, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov spoke to the media and suggested that Ferguson’s time is finished and that the 36-year-old fighter would never be the same.
“Tony Ferguson’s time is finished,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Now, he’s gonna come back, someone’s gonna beat him again, I believe. When you take damage like this, you’re never gonna be the same. Never ever. Even if you’re Tony Ferguson. He took too much damage.”
And now, after Charles Oliveira dominated Ferguson at UFC 256, Patrick Auger and Drake Riggs respond to the comments by Nurmagomedov and assess whether they were correct.
Riggs agrees with parts of the quote, particularly that Tony’s time may be finished. But he disagrees with the damage part of the quote. He didn’t take that much damage from Oliveira; it was more just being overwhelmed by his grappling ability. He’s been fighting phenomenal fighters, so it’s hard to truly assess where Ferguson’s at. Riggs calls for UFC to match him with a lower-ranked fighter in the division and suggests Paul Felder as a potential opponent.
Auger gets what Khabib is saying because we’ve seen this before in other fighters. This isn’t necessarily the case for Tony, though. Oliveira dominated him in a whole new way, and it spoke more to Oliveira being insanely talented rather than Ferguson declining.
Auger is more concerned with Tony’s mindset. He’s been talking about how Oliveira was mentally broken in round one, for example. Ferguson still could have some time to make another run for the title, but he’s going to need to learn from his mistakes and make big improvements.
Riggs says he needs to change something up. The losses are a bit maddening.
Lastly, the pair touch on recent comments from “Big” John McCarthy that suggested that the UFC could cut Tony Ferguson.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.