If I were to introduce a newbie to Tony Ferguson, this is the fight I’m starting with. It’s also at number one on my list of top “El Cucuy” barnburners.
That’s right. Out of his multitude of post-fight bonus-worthy performances against the likes of Anthony Pettis, Josh Thomson, Donald Cerrone, even Justin Gaethje, his 2016 banger with Lando Vannata stands out to me the most.
I remember watching this fight for the first time in a herb-induced state of consciousness and somehow feeling every head strike myself. Vannata came out loose in the opening minutes, throwing a diverse array of spinning shit while comfortably cutting angles.
Ferguson attacked with his usual come-forward style with all heart and zero head movement.
The action began to spike up in the final half of round one. Ferguson was finding a home for his jab then got dropped thrice with a head kick and a left hook, respectively. The Sioux Falls crowd was on its feet as they watched this debuting fighter on the brink of pulling a huge upset.
Ferguson began landing his jabs at will in the second round and busted Vannata’s face open. A few exchanges later, Ferguson found an opening for a front headlock, initially went for a standing guillotine, then dropped down for a smooth transition to a D’arce choke until he eventually got the tap.
This written breakdown obviously won’t do this fight justice, so go ahead and relive all the action for yourself.
Ferguson and Vannata are both part of UFC 262 this weekend in Houston. Given their reputations as Fight of the Night competitors, I won’t expect anything less.
As a bonus, here’s Vannata beating the brakes off John Makdessi at UFC 206.