I am probably not in the minority about hating the coronavirus pandemic and not alone in one of the selfish reasons I do. It has wreaked havoc on the sports world especially the one we love. Mixed martial arts is a unique beast in that the UFC has many high profile fights on as many cards throughout the year. That’s not to say they are all blockbusters but they are important and that’s the key. In 2018 there were 39 events and 474 fights in total. Think about that and we will give you a second to high five Dana White and the matchmakers.
The biggest fight of 2020 in terms of supremacy and legacy was scrapped and broke hearts and the internet. Tony Ferguson was supposed to finally get his shot at the undisputed lightweight title now held by Khabib Nurmagomedov. If this was 10 years ago for Ferguson it wouldn’t be such a big deal but it’s not and it is a big deal. Tony is 36 years old and will likely be 37 if and when he finally competes for the lightweight title. That’s old in MMA folks.
Tony and Khabib are each on 12 fight win streaks but the Russian is 5 years younger and just hitting his prime. This means each of the next few years is more important for Tony in terms of prioritizing. If he was to win the title late 2020 he would have a couple more years to rule before time caught up to him or he moved up in weight as the cut became too much. It’s a fact of life even if it is depressing.
Ferguson is the guy, asterisk Justin Gaethje, that hardcore fans believe can end Nurmagomedov’s reign. He is unorthodox, creative, and highly skilled making him a nightmare for unprepared opponents. Even prepared opponents struggle with his pace and tenacity. Again, how long will those be his strengths and how long will it be before he has to adjust to what his body will allow him to do? Khabib is intelligent and he is likely thinking the same thing. Mayweather waited until Pacquiao looked vulnerable and took advantage of it. Are we seeing the same thing with the Russian here? Or is that overthinking it?
The point is that age, timing, and staying healthy are the three keys to Tony finally realizing his dream of being undisputed lightweight champion. So far the official tally of Ferguson vs Khabib being cancelled sits at 4 and if his luck stays with him in undisputed title fight scheduling it could realistically be 5.