It was not long after Justin Gaethje dominated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 when UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov gave a prediction for the remainder of Ferguson’s fighting career:
“And I understand Tony Ferguson’s time is finished. Now, he gonna come back, someone gonna beat him again, I believe. Because when you take damage like this, you never gonna be the same.”
Khabib’s prediction came true, and that “someone” who beat him was Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira at UFC 256. The man who delivered the damage to Ferguson that Khabib was referring to is former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. Gaethje’s words about Ferguson mirrored Khabib’s almost verbatim following Ferguson’s loss to Oliveira.
“I was impressed with Oliveira but yeah, I don’t want to take anything away from him but Tony was not the same person,” Gaethje told ESPN in a recent interview. “No one’s going to be the same person after you get hit in the face that many times. Ever.”
Gaethje & Khabib Differ Widely On One Thing Regarding Ferguson
The UFC 254 headliners may be in full agreement that Tony Ferguson cannot be the same again after the damage he withstood at the hands of Gaethje, but they diverge widely on the topic of whether or not Tony Ferguson was ever elite in the first place. In fact, Gaethje may be the only notable figure to ever go on the record in claiming that he wasn’t.
“I mean, Tony has always been that man,” Gaethje said. “Guys constantly went in there and fought in the chaos and refused to create space. I don’t know why, [Anthony] Pettis and [Donald] Cerrone, these guys weren’t able to do what I did. But I think that was there the whole time.
“Fans not being there really helped, stayed focus, keep everything internal. That’s a huge factor when you’re fighting Tony because just his face alone makes you wanna fight. I don’t think he’s done by any means, I just don’t think he’s an elite lightweight. I don’t think he ever was. I just think his skills were really effective in the way people were fighting him.”
Tony Ferguson is currently on a losing streak for the first time in his UFC. As for Justin Gaethje, the #2-ranked lightweight is currently unbooked yet prepared to accept a fight whenever offered.
Do you agree with Justin Gaethje and Khabib? Will Tony Ferguson never be the same again?