If things go as planned and Conor McGregor puts his 155-pound title on the line against nemesis Nate Diaz next time out then the UFC lightweight division will have to sit on the sidelines even longer.
While a McGregor-Diaz trilogy bout is a money-friendly decision for UFC, especially during a lackluster 2017 campaign, the rest of the contenders at 155 pounds may feel slighted. After all, Diaz hasn’t competed since his last meeting with “Notorious” at UFC 202 and hasn’t fought at lightweight since defeating Michael Johnson back in 2015.
One of those top contenders who isn’t too keen on Diaz jumping the lightweight title line is the outspoken Tony Ferguson, who will meet Kevin Lee at UFC 216 on Oct. 7 in Las Vegas for the interim lightweight title.
“The next fight for Conor should be whoever wins this interim lightweight title,” Ferguson said during UFC 216’s media conference call earlier this week. “Regardless of winning or losing this, myself or if it’s Kevin Lee, that b*tch (McGregor) needs to defend or vacate and he needs to unify that belt. Anything else, with as far as him trying to fight Nate and everything else, that’s the bullsh*t rankings and everything else that the UFC stands for just [going] out the window, man.”
Ferguson obviously has a point and speaks for almost the entire division, but we’ve seen UFC side with the more lucrative fight in the past opposed to booking the right matchup. While everyone and anyone wants to see McGregor and Diaz lock horns for a third time, other players in the stacked 155-pound division have been waiting patiently for their chance to fight for UFC gold.
“This has been my division before McNuggets even stepped into this b*tch,” Ferguson said. “Even when I was at Paradigm Sports Management, he signed up at 145 pounds. The agreement was he wasn’t going to come up to 155 pounds, but that raised a conflict of interest and I’m pissed, so that b*tch needs to fight me or he needs to fight the guy that’s holding the belt.
“I mean, really? You have rankings for a reason,” Ferguson added. “You have an interim belt for a reason — so you can unify the thing. The guy (Diaz) is what, a top-10 (lightweight)? Not even a top-five? Kevin Lee’s got more heart than Nate, and I have more heart than this whole entire division. So if they want to put that fight together, then that’s great, but you know the fans will be pissed, because obviously they know that f*cking Diaz and Conor is going to make a lot of money, but the real righteous thing to do is to make sure the belts become unified. That’s what really needs to happen.”
Luckily for Ferguson, he’s at the forefront of a potential matchup with “Notorious” should the Diaz trilogy fight fail to materialize. He has already bashed McGregor, as well as Diaz, in the public eye and has compiled an impressive nine-fight win streak since 2013, including dominant victories over former UFC lightweight king Rafael dos Anjos and divisional staple Edson Barboza.
“El Cucuy” must first get past Lee at UFC 216 if he wants to put pressure on the promotion to book a title unification bout with McGregor. Until then, the rumors will swirl and fight fans will continue to push for Mac-Diaz 3.