Tony Ferguson is the new Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim Lightweight champion after defeating Kevin Lee in a rather entertaining title fight in the main event of UFC 216 last night (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Indeed, the two went at it for three rounds before Ferguson put his jiu-jitsu to work by latching on a fight-ending triangle choke on “The Motown Phenom” to capture the interim Lightweight title.
With his first-ever world strap on his mantle, you can bet “EL Cucuy’s” confidence will blow up even further, as evidenced by his post-fight victory speech. And to no one’s surprise, Tony took the chance to call out current division champion Conor McGregor.
Indeed, the next logical step for Ferguson is to face “Notorious” in a title-unifying match sometime next year. McGregor has already proclaimed his next step would be to legitimize the 155-pound title after staying away from the cage for over a year due to his boxing venture.
But, the time is now, and Conor will defend his belt, maybe even at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, 2017 in Las Vegas. Of course, “Notorious” is willing to return by year’s end as long as he doesn’t have to do any promotional rounds.
He only wants to show up, make weight and fight.
While it’s not out of the realm of possibility for UFC to bend to Conor’s request, yet again, I don’t see it happening this time around. The promotion wouldn’t want to miss on the chance for McGregor to return to what he does best, promote a fight, on the heels of his massive boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.
That said, it’s safe to assume UFC will wait for Conor to make his comeback in 2018 after he’s well-rested and willing to get back to pressers and media calls in full force to get the most bang for their buck.
Of course, there is always the possibility that McGregor shifts his focus elsewhere, as he could very well decide he wants to settle his score once and for all with Nate Diaz in a trilogy fight. If he does, it won’t — and shouldn’t — be for the 155-pound title, as Nate hasn’t done anything to warrant a shot at the title.
Personally, I hope Conor does what’s right and finally defend his belt against Ferguson. He never did that at Featherweight — or in the minor leagues, for that matter — so it would be nice to see the biggest money-making machine in MMA defend one of his belts, at least once.
Or, he can just vacate the strap altogether.
For full UFC 216 play-by-play updates and results click here.