5 potential opponents for Tony Ferguson

UFC 262: Tony Ferguson vs Beneil Dariush
UFC 262: Tony Ferguson vs Beneil Dariush

Since Tony Ferguson debuted on The Ultimate Fighter, he has become one of the sports' most popular fighters.

Even though Ferguson is currently on a three-fight losing streak, that hasn't stopped fans from rooting for him. The former interim UFC lightweight champion is at an interesting crossroads in his career. Ferguson's next fight could either get him back into title contention or force him to contemplate retirement.

There are plenty of possibilities for Ferguson, both at lightweight and welterweight, that would be appealing for fans. At this point of his career, perhaps it would be the perfect time for Ferguson to move back up to welterweight.

Fighting at 170lbs would make sense, as that's the same weight class he won The Ultimate Fighter at. However, Ferguson may feel at his best when competing at 155lbs, and may choose to remain at lightweight.

On that note, here's a look at five potential opponents for Tony Ferguson when he decides to return to the octagon.

#5. Tony Ferguson vs. Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone 2

UFC 246 McGregor vs Cowboy: Ultimate Media Day
UFC 246 McGregor vs Cowboy: Ultimate Media Day

Kicking this list off is a rematch between Tony Ferguson and Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone.

Both Ferguson and Cerrone competed against one another at UFC 238, where Ferguson beat Cerrone by second-round TKO. The cageside doctor ruled that Cerrone was unable to continue, as his eye was swollen shut. The referee was then instructed to stop the fight, and Ferguson was given the win via TKO.

It was an entertaining fight between the two veterans. The first round was more of a back-and-forth, with Cerrone getting the better of Ferguson at times. However, 'El Cucuy' regrouped, and took control of the fight with his striking in the second round.

After the fight, Ferguson said that it wasn't the way he wanted the fight to go. Even though Ferguson said he wouldn't be opposed to a rematch, he went back on his comments a month later. With both fighters on a losing streak, now could be the perfect time to revisit this matchup.

Nevertheless, Ferguson-Cerrone would make sense because of where both men are at in their respective careers now. It would also allow Cerrone to have his final fight against a fellow fan-favorite and big name like Ferguson.

#4. Tony Ferguson vs. Matt Brown

UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Lima
UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Lima

Another interesting matchup would be if Tony Ferguson returned to welterweight for a bout with veteran Matt 'The Immortal' Brown. Ferguson hasn't fought at welterweight since he defeated Ramsay Nijem to win The Ultimate Fighter tournament.

If Ferguson were to move back up, one opponent that would make sense is Matt Brown. 'The Immortal' recently snapped a two-fight losing streak by defeating Dheigo Lima by second-round knockout. In doing so, Brown was also awarded the Performance of the Night bonus.

Brown is a fighter who brings it every time, and is one fans love watching because of his exciting style. During his UFC tenure, Brown has won 12 fights via knockout, which is tied for the most in the promotion's history.

Ferguson-Brown would be an excellent addition to a PPV event, and could motivate Ferguson to move back to 170lbs. At 37, Ferguson might have more energy competing at 170lbs because he won't have to cut as much weight. It would be interesting to see how Ferguson would fare against a striker like Brown at welterweight, though.

#3. Tony Ferguson vs. Brian 'T-City' Ortega (lightweight)

UFC 214 Renato Moicano vs. Brian Ortega
UFC 214 Renato Moicano vs. Brian Ortega

An outside-the-box approach for Tony Ferguson's next opponent could be against former UFC featherweight title-challenger Brian Ortega. It might not be too far-fetched if Ortega decided to move up to lightweight after two unsuccessful title fights.

Prior to his title opportunity against Alex Volkanovski, Ortega expressed the desire to take fights at lightweight and welterweight. As Ortega was defeated, it may be a long time before he gets another title shot at featherweight. With that in mind perhaps now may be the time for him to move up to 155lbs.

Ortega-Ferguson could be more than an excellent grappling showcase, as they both aren't afraid to mix it up. Ortega proved how resilient he could be during his recent bout with Volkanovski, and would be a great opponent for Ferguson.

Ortega fighting Tony Ferguson makes sense at lightweight because he is the third-ranked featherweight fighting the seventh-ranked lightweight. Both are coming off losses, sp a big win would help solidify their spot and an opponent in the top five.

Even though Ortega is one of the top featherweights, he may be doing more harm than good for his career. Ortega looks like he's going through tough weight cuts, so it may not be a mismatch if he fought Ferguson.

#2. Tony Ferguson vs. 'Iron' Michael Chandler

UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler

Another fight that would make sense for Tony Ferguson at lightweight is former Bellator lightweight champion 'Iron' Michael Chandler.

A bout between Tony Ferguson and Michael Chandler was reportedly in the works last December, but the fight never materialized. As a result, Chandler instead made his UFC debut against Dan Hooker, which he won by first-round knockout. During his post-fight interview, Chandler put the division on notice that he was the one to beat at 155lbs.

Chandler and Ferguson had a memorable exchange during a UFC 262 press conference after Ferguson blamed Chandler for backing out. During their exchange, Ferguson said Chandler only received an opportunity because of 'Dana White privilege', which elicited a laugh from the UFC president.

After the win, Chandler received a title shot against UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 262, but he was unsuccessful there. Tony Ferguson, meanwhile, also came up short in the co-main event, losing to Beneil Dariush via unanimous decision.

Depending on what happens in Chandler's upcoming bout with Justin Gaethje, a matchup with Ferguson could be next. If Chandler loses, it would be his second straight loss. Naturally, a big fight between two big names on a losing streak would be significant for their respective rankings at lightweight.

#1. Tony Ferguson vs. Nate Diaz (welterweight)

UFC 244 Masvidal v. Diaz
UFC 244 Masvidal v. Diaz

Topping off this list of possible opponents for Tony Ferguson is former title-challenger Nate Diaz at welterweight. A bout between Ferguson and Diaz would be quite a draw for a PPV event. The Diaz rule of 5-round fights would make a lot of sense in a Ferguson-Diaz bout.

Even with recent losses, both Diaz and Ferguson remain two of the sport's most popular fighters. The personalities of both fighters would make their pre-fight press conference must-see TV. Both fighters aren't shy of speaking their minds, so it would be interesting to see what they come up with.

A five-round bout at welterweight, and both not going to have to go through tough weight cuts, would make for an exciting fight. Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz have been known to get in their opponents' heads with their unorthodox movements.

With that in mind, the winner could be determined by who psyches the other out first. One would have to think Ferguson-Diaz could be a lock for the Fight of the Night bonus as well.

Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz match up well with one another in terms of their fighting styles and durability. As both perform well in the later rounds, it could definitely be a fight that lives up to the hype. Ferguson-Diaz could be an unpredictable clash because both match up very well in the stand-up and grappling.

It's surprising Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz haven't fought in the past. For years, both were in title contention at lightweight, but a bout between the two never materialized.

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