With a record of 25 wins from 28 wins, Tony Ferguson is a fighter that deserves respect. After all, he still holds the record for most consecutive wins in the UFC lightweight division at 12, and has not tasted defeat since May 2012 – a quite remarkable run of form. He has held the UFC Lightweight Championship, and although he was unfortunately stripped of that title due to injury, his talents as a fighter are clear for all to see.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that the Tony Ferguson betting odds have him installed as the firm favourite for his upcoming fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC 249. After all, Ferguson is, by most people’s accounts, a fighter of a much higher calibre than Gaethje. UFC 249 was supposed to feature the talented Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, but lockdown measures in his home country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic meant he was forced to withdraw.
Indeed, the lack of sport during this time of near worldwide lockdown and preventative measures stopping sporting events taking place means that UFC 249 is suddenly a much bigger deal. Many people who would not ordinarily take much interest in the sport may be tempted to tune in just to get their sporting fix. What this creates is a massive global stage on which these fighters can flaunt their skills and prove to the world their credentials as champions.
Ferguson is an immensely driven and motivated individual. You need only look at his fight record over the last eight years to see that. In recent times, he has beaten some experienced and talented UFC campaigners, including a win over Anthony Pettis in October 2018 and a victory over Donald Cerrone in June the following year. On both of those occasions, Ferguson earned the Fight of the Night bonus, and he has plenty of Performance of the Night awards to his name from prior bouts as well.
UFC 249 brings the chance for Ferguson to back up this run of fine results he’s been on, with another resounding victory. Of course, the clash with Khabib would have been seen as the consummation of Ferguson’s ascension to the top of the sport, but despite that fight not being able to take place, the match-up with Gaethje is still a chance for Ferguson to prove why he should be considered in the same breath as Khabib.
It may prove to be a strange occasion for both fighters. There will be no crowd present, and so the raucous atmosphere that usually accompanies fight night will not be there. But you sense that the determination and drive that has defined Ferguson’s gradual rise to the top of the sport will overcome those difficulties. He’ll have his eyes on the prizes that lie in wait beyond this one – the prospect of a rescheduled bout with Khabib and of further big-name opponents down the line.
Of course, victory over Gaethje cannot be treated as an inevitability. Ferguson will need to showcase all his talents to ward off a talented opponent, but the thought of those bigger occasions still to come will drive him towards victory, and a dazzling performance and win at UFC 249 will back up the supreme talents that have brought him this far.