Tony Ferguson took his third loss in a row on Saturday night at UFC 262. That was the first this had ever happened to the former interim UFC lightweight champ. The loss, to Beneil Dariush, followed losses to newly crowned champion Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje.
The loss to Dariush was a lopsided one, with Ferguson outpaced and outscored in the eyes of all three judges. However, it was surprising that the fight made it to the judges after Dariush had Ferguson locked into a brutal looking heel hook in the second round.
Ferguson refused to tap to the submission. Dariush later said he was astonished by that fact, telling reporters he felt Ferguson’s knee ‘pop’ and that he worried that he may have torn his opponent’s ACL.
Despite the loss—one that prompted UFC President Dana White to question whether Ferguson’s age has finally caught up with him—Ferguson took to Instagram to share his thoughts.
In a series of cryptic images, Ferguson seemed to allude to an intention to heal up and return to the Octagon.
The first image, taken from the classic video game Punch-Out!!, shows a defeated fighter on a stool with the options ‘Give up?’ and ‘Retire?’ floating over his shoulders. The second image shows a silhouette of Jesus on the cross. In his shadow morphs into an individual being arm-barred. ‘Jesus didn’t tap’ is written close by. The third image is more Punch-Out!!, this time with a fighter training. The last image shows Ferguson’s fight gear, neatly folded (and alongside gear belonging to BE favourite Ben Saunders).
Before this downturn in form, Ferguson was riding a 12 fight win streak that saw him defeat, bloody and brutalize a host of top lightweights, including Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee.
In 2020 he was scheduled to meet Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title. However, just like the four other times they were matched-up, the fight would not happen.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the US, their fight—scheduled for New York in April—was cancelled. The UFC tried to re-schedule the bout for Florida in May, but Nurmagomedov was locked down in Russia.
So Ferguson faced Justin Gaethje instead. And Gaethje handed Ferguson the first TKO loss of his 13-year pro career.