Surging lightweight contender Tony Ferguson will finally get his chance to claim UFC gold when he takes on Kevin Lee in the main event of next weekend’s (Oct. 7, 2017) UFC 216 from Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner will be named the interim 155-pound champion.
Typically, an interim champion would fight an undisputed champion to unify the titles, but it’s not certain that the winner of UFC 216’s main event will be the next challenger to Conor McGregor’s throne. In fact, many expect McGregor to take on rival Nate Diaz in a trilogy match upon his return to the Octagon.
Ferguson feels as if the UFC is going to try to keep McGregor, who is without question the sport’s biggest star, away from a ‘real contender’:
“Money talks and (expletive) walks, so obviously they’re going to protect their pocket, and they’re going to keep ‘McNuggets’ away from a real contender,” Ferguson said today during a conference call.
“El Cucuy”, however, feels as if McGregor should be forced to fight either himself or Lee next, adding in that the Irishman needs to ‘defend or vacate’ the title he won with a second round knockout of Eddie Alvarez at last November’s UFC 205:
“The next fight for Conor should be whoever wins this interim lightweight title,” Ferguson said. “If it’s myself or Kevin Lee, that (expletive) needs to defend or vacate, and he needs to unify that belt.
“Anything else, as far as him trying to fight Nate, the (expletive) rankings and everything else that the UFC stands for, goes out the window, man. I mean, really? You have rankings for a reason. You have an interim belt for a reason – that’s so you can unify the thing.”
Ferguson also made a rather bold claim regarding a potential third fight between McGregor and Diaz, saying that fans will be ‘pissed’ if the UFC books it:
“If they want to put that fight together, that’s great,” Ferguson said. “But you know the fans will be pissed, because they obviously know that 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.”
That likely isn’t true given the fact that the first two fights between the two headlined two of the best-selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time, but Ferguson may have a point in regards to an interim champion being most deserving of the next crack at an undisputed champion.
What do you make of “El Cucuy’s” comments?