Michael Bisping doesn’t think the future looks too bright for Tony Ferguson following back-to-back losses to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira, as ‘The Count’ believes ‘El Cucuy’s’ best days might be behind him.
It isn’t so much the fact that Ferguson lost to Gaethje and Oliveira but how he lost to those men. The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner was beaten senseless by Gaethje and completely manhandled on the mat by Oliveira, which Bisping believes are telltale signs that Ferguson is on the decline.
Bisping knows Ferguson doesn’t want to hear this but, from one UFC veteran to another, advised the 36-year-old to take some time off before thinking about returning to the octagon for his next fight.
“Against Justin Gaethje he got out-struck and then against Charles Oliveira he essentially for the most part got out-grappled,” Bisping said on a recent episode of Believe You Me (h/t MMA News). “I’m kind of concerned for Tony Ferguson. Of course, he doesn’t want my sympathy, he doesn’t need my concern, he doesn’t want me talking about him like this, but I’m just curious about where he’s gonna go now as a fighter and I do feel for him. It’s hard. When you’re a guy like Tony Ferguson or anybody in the UFC that’s at the top of the food chain for so long and you’re one of the guys, you’re one of the main guys in that division for so long, and then to see this fall from grace if you will, to get dominated two times in a row.
“Charles Oliveira, for all the skill that he has and I said he was massively underappreciated, is not one of the guys that you think of as the stars of the division. He will be now, but he wasn’t prior to this fight. I just hope that Tony Ferguson deals with this well, I hope has a good team around him.”
“I just think the real story of what we’re seeing here is the rapid decline of Tony Ferguson because the human body can only take so much and Tony has been such a warrior for the UFC,” Bisping added. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about Tony Ferguson—and what I’m about to say, if I’m Tony, could be perceived as that way and that’s not what I’m trying to do—I have nothing but respect for Tony Ferguson. He is a true fighter. He’s an absolute warrior. He’s put on some sensational performances inside the octagon, but he’s also taken a lot of damage and often because he’s so f*cking tough he’s able to outlast his opponents, he takes this amount of damage, and then he puts the hurt on them and he gets the win. And it’s always in spectacular fashion, that’s why he gets so many bonuses.
“If we know Tony Ferguson, he’s not the type of guy to sit around and say, ‘No no no, I’m done, I’ve taken too much damage. No, he’s gonna say the opposite, he’s gonna say, ‘No, I’m fine. I just got beaten.’ Maybe there were some mistakes in camp or whatever. Tony’s not gonna accept that he’s on the decline. That’s what fighters do. Fighters never accept that. Fighters need somebody else, a third party to step in. A manager, a loved one, a wife, a coach, a friend, president of the UFC, who knows, we’ve seen that happen many times, to step in and say, ‘Tony, Tony, Tony, you’ve taken a lot of damage these days.’
“Because he can still compete and it’s only two losses. Back then it was 2012 before he got beat again, but I am posing the question and I do feel that the amount of punishment he’s taken over the course of his career is starting to catch up with him.”
Bisping, for his part, retired in 2018 following two consecutive stoppage losses to Georges St-Pierre and Kelvin Gastelum, losing to the latter in particularly brutal fashion. The former UFC middleweight champion was recently inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and serves as a commentator and analyst for ESPN.