The pair were briefly intended to be the co-main event at UFC 254, but an agreement could not be reached. Speaking at the UFC 254 virtual media day, Chandler admitted that provided he doesn’t fight this weekend, “El Cucuy” is his preferred next opponent.
“Conventional wisdom would say the top 4 guys are booked right now, that leaves Tony Ferguson,” Chandler said. “He’s been vocal about me and said some things about me. So obviously he knows that fight is looming. I think that’s the logical, best choice. Either I am who I say I am or I’m not, so we’ll find out pretty quick. Against, I think, the scariest guy in the division: ‘El Cucuy.’ He’s got a screw loose. He fights like it. He’s a scary guy to fight. So what better way to introduce the UFC fans to who I am than to go out there against Tony Ferguson. A perennial top guy. A guy who just lost his first fight a couple of months ago when he was on a 12-fight winning streak.”
It will be interesting to see if Ferguson is ultimately game. Until now, he has shown very little interest in welcoming Chandler to the promotion.
“From a marketing standpoint, dude has less than 100k [followers] on Twitter,” Ferguson said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “You’re going to try him more notoriety by throwing him against me and throwing him on the Khabib card. I get it. But don’t pay him more than us. He has zero time in the UFC.”
Chandler certainly finds himself in a unique position. He will be waiting until the last minute this weekend to find out if he’ll get an improbable shot at the title in his first UFC fight.
Chandler is coming off of an incredible knockout victory against Benson Henderson just over two months ago. But despite his obvious pedigree as the former champion in Bellator, Ferguson is not the only one to throw shade since his arrival in the UFC. For one, Khabib Nurmagomedov has questioned his credentials as an elite-level fighter.
Whatever transpires, Chandler will be looking to silence his doubters with a big victory in his first outing.
Should Tony Ferguson be his first opponent in the Octagon?