Tony Ferguson finds an unlikely backer in Sean O’Malley: ‘Give him one more’
From 2013 to 2019, Tony Ferguson was the Lightweight boogeyman. “El Cucuy” wreaked havoc on the division, winning 12-straight fights mostly via finish to pick up an interim title, though sadly his “cursed” fight opposite Khabib Nurmagomedov never materialized. Instead, he cut weight twice for his 2020 fight versus Justin Gaethje at UFC 249, and everything spiraled.
Gaethje pulverized Ferguson, battering him for most of five rounds before the referee called a halt to the violence. Since then, it’s clear a step was lost. Ferguson would lose his next five straight fights, including his most recent appearance last weekend (Sat., July 29, 2023) at UFC 291 versus Bobby Green (watch highlights).
At 39 years of age, Ferguson’s fighting future is in question. Left and right, fellow athletes and fans alike are calling for his retirement. Ferguson himself is defiant and has no intention of walking away, but he may find the decision taken from his hands before long given his six-fight losing streak.
He’s found an unlikely ally, however. Top-ranked Bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley believes that the former interim champion should be given a final chance, largely because he’s been losing to such an elite class of competition.
“Tony Ferguson (is) on a six-fight losing streak,” O’Malley began on the “Timbo Sugar Show” podcast (via MMAJunkie). “‘Entering his prime’ though so that’s f—king encouraging if you’re a Tony Ferguson fan. Bobby Green looked slick on the feet, throwing his one-twos, his two-ones, from his hip, fast as f—k. Tony was eating them until he was sleeping on them.”
“I say give him one more,” O’Malley continued. “I don’t (want to count him out) … Listen to who he lost to: (Justin) Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler, Nate Diaz, Bobby Green. He’s not losing to f—king turds.”
At the moment, it’s unclear if UFC will opt to keep Ferguson around for one more go, and it’s even less certain that UFC would be willing to let “El Cucuy” fight far down the roster in search of a more winnable opponent. Ferguson commands a significant salary, and UFC isn’t known for booking charity fights. Still, it could happen, in which case Ferguson would be fighting to avoid tying fellow UFC Lightweight legend BJ Penn’s record UFC losing streak of seven.
As for O’Malley, he’s scheduled to challenge Aljamain Sterling for the Bantamweight title at UFC 292, which takes place in just a couple weeks (Aug. 19, 2023) from inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.