Justin Gaethje doesn’t believe Tony Ferguson was ever an elite lightweight.
At UFC 249, Gaethje took on Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. Ferguson entered the fight on a 12-fight winning streak and many thought “El Cucuy” would win. However, that was far from what happened as Gaethje pieced up Ferguson on the feet and won by TKO in the fifth round.
Ferguson then returned at UFC 256 and suffered a decision loss to Charles Oliveira where he was dominated. For Gaethje, after seeing the back-to-back losses, he doesn’t think Ferguson is an elite lightweight and says Ferguson was never one.
“I mean, Tony has always been that man,” Gaethje told ESPN (via The Body Lock). “Guys constantly went in there and fought in the chaos and refused to create space. I don’t know why, [Anthony] Pettis and [Donald] Cerrone, these guys weren’t able to do what I did. But I think that was there the whole time.
“Fans not being there really helped, stayed focus, keep everything internal,” Gaethje continued. “That’s a huge factor when you’re fighting Tony because just his face alone makes you wanna fight. I don’t think he’s done by any means, I just don’t think he’s an elite lightweight. I don’t think he ever was. I just think his skills were really effective in the way people were fighting him.”
It is hard to say, Ferguson was never an elite lightweight. He beat the likes of Kevin Lee, Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone. Yet, Justin Gaethje believes Ferguson will have a hard time being competitive now after all the damage he took.
“I was impressed with Oliveira but yeah, I don’t want to take anything away from him but Tony was not the same person,” Gaethje added. “No one’s going to be the same person after you get hit in the face that many times. Ever. You fight with less confidence and his confidence is something that made him so dangerous and his lack of confidence now is going to be a factor.”
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