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What will happen to Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush after UFC 262?

Tony Ferguson (left), Beneil Dariush (right)
Tony Ferguson (left), Beneil Dariush (right)
ANALYST

Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush are at a crossroads in their respective careers. Both competitors badly need a victory at UFC 262, but for completely different reasons.

It's difficult to predict the outcome of the much-anticipated face-off between the two lightweight standouts. Nevertheless, Beneil Dariush vs Tony Ferguson will serve as a litmus test for both in order to determine where they stand in the 155-pound weight class, and where they'll go, moving forward.

Past results suggest that surging star Beneil Dariush could slay the declining veteran. In recent years, the Assyrian-American has been quietly ascending the lightweight ladder after collecting six straight victories with four stoppages.

Having said that, it's difficult to write Tony Ferguson off just yet. He may have dropped back-to-back fights but both losses came against fellow lightweight stars Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. And there's no shame in losing to two of the best lightweights in the world.

What's at stake for Tony Ferguson at UFC 262?

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje
UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje

For Tony Ferguson, UFC 262 is essentially a do-or-die situation. Not in the sense that he's going to get cut by the UFC, but taking a third straight defeat will knock him out of the title picture.

Losing at UFC 262 will be the final nail in the coffin of Tony Ferguson's championship aspirations. The UFC will likely demote him to a high-level gatekeeper post and use his name value to build up younger stars.

If he hopes to re-establish his contender status, Tony Ferguson will have to get back in line and get past a strong bunch of lightweights. But for a 37-year-old veteran, that doesn't appear to be an attainable career path.

On the flipside, a win for Tony Ferguson could revive his struggling career. Beating a formidable foe like Beneil Dariush could be the catalyst for one final stretch of success in the octagon, en route to a title opportunity.

On top of that, lightweight contenders no longer need to get past Khabib Nurmagomedov to reach the division's mountaintop. The path to the title should be less difficult for perennial lightweight contenders like Ferguson.

What's at stake for Beneil Dariush at UFC 262?

UFC Fight Night: Dariush v Holtzman
UFC Fight Night: Dariush v Holtzman

Beneil Dariush has been flying under the radar despite enjoying a long stretch of success. That's how difficult it is to stand out in a division that names like Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Charles Oliveira call home.

No doubt, what Dariush has accomplished in recent years is impressive. However, the only ranked opponent he's beaten during his win streak is Diego Ferreira. But that's because of no fault of his own.

Beneil Dariush is in a difficult spot as he's a dangerous fighter without too much name recognition. Simply put, the risk of fighting him is greater than the reward of beating him. And for that reason, Dariush is not an appealing opponent for many high-profile fighters.

As big-name opponents rarely come by for Beneil Dariush, he has to make the most out of his matchup with Tony Ferguson. Adding 'El Cucuy' to his hit list is exactly what Dariush needs to separate himself from other middle-of-the-pack contenders at lightweight.

If, however, Dariush loses to Tony Ferguson, it might require another six-fight streak before he gets noticed again. Normally, stumbling after going 6-0 should only be a minor setback. But in the talent-rich 155-pound weight class, any form of failure would hurt Dariush's chances of ever getting close to a title shot.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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