Former interim UFC lightweight champion, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of newly minted interim titleholder, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje a week ago at UFC 249 – the first loss in thirteen outings, and incredibly, eight years. The Oxnard native suffered a fractured orbital and multiple lacerations over the course of the five-round beating, however, he will avoid surgery to repair that eye injury.
Nevertheless, a prolonged period on the sidelines may still await for the charismatic 36-year-old, – forced or not. According to the 10th. Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s boxing coach, Rashad Holloway, Ferguson needs a “mental break from this sport” as he dealt with the pressure of a twelve fight undefeated streak. Holloway gave his thoughts on Ferguson’s future in an interview with reporter, Helen Yee.
“I think at this point, Tony (Ferguson) needs a mental break from this sport,” Holloway explained. “Just to be normal, not deal with all the politics and the headaches of it, the physical part of it. I think after a couple of months resting, no working out, we can go to the gym and have some fun. Just have some fun working out. Just have fun, not really preparing for a fight but just have fun and take a break and fall in love with the sport all over again. It’s a lot of pressure when you’re undefeated for so long and you’re looked at as the marquee guy. Now it’s like the weight’s off his shoulders and he can be normal again.”
Ferguson was initially set to meet Khabib Nurmagomedov for a fifth scheduled pairing on April 18ths. edition of UFC 249 – until travel restrictions imposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, left Nurmagomedov stranded in Russia. Absorbing a whopping one-hundred significant head strikes against Gaethje in the May 9th. headliner, Ferguson was eventually stopped midway through the fifth and final frame in the short-notice matchup instead.
The all-rounder drew some scepticism following his decision to follow through with a weight cut on April 17th. – despite the rescheduling of his clash with Gaethje. On both April 17th. and May 8th. Ferguson tipped the scales at 155-pounds.
Earlier this week, former Paradigm Sports Management stablemate and two-weight world champion, Conor McGregor fired some barbs at Ferguson’s perceived ability and overall level, which drew a response from ‘El Cucuy’.
In terms of overall activity, Ferguson has competed once each year since 2016, suffering a catastrophic tear of his FCL during media obligations for the promotion, ahead of a scheduled vacant lightweight title meeting with the aforementioned Khabib at UFC 223 in April of 2018. Last weekend’s loss to Gaethje snapped a division tieing winning run which included triumphs over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Edson Barboza, Rafael dos Anjos, and Josh Thomson.