Two of the sport’s respected “OGs” headlined UFC 279 on Saturday. Due to last-minute changes, company superstar Nate Diaz and former interim champion Tony Ferguson ended up paired against each other in what turned out to be a relatively entertaining four-rounder.
The 37-year-old Diaz ended up with his hand raised via submission in what he confirmed to be his final Octagon appearance. Sitting cageside to witness it all at the time was UFC Hall-of-Famer Daniel Cormier, who was part of the three-man broadcast team.
Now relieved from his commentary duties, “DC” was able to give a more candid assessment of what he saw, which he did recently during his ESPN YouTube show with Ryan Clark.
“...Nate Diaz still has a little bit left in the tank if he wants to fight. But it also tells me that Tony Ferguson is done. As a guy that I’ve seen in the Octagon, Tony’s done, bro.
“He is a shell of himself, and he doesn’t want to retire, right? He actually said he feels like he got better, he saw some good things. I’m like, ‘What did he do in there to show that he’s better than he was prior?’”
“El Cucuy” is now on a five-fight losing streak, which began in 2020 with his UFC 249 war with Justin Gaethje. What Cormier took note of was how Ferguson’s career went on a sudden massive dip.
“It wasn’t a gradual decline. It was like he got to the edge of the cliff and just fell off. It was Justin Gaethje, and that was it. The moment he was done with that interim title fight, he wasn’t as good.
“Now, granted he lost to Beneil Dariush and Charles Oliveira so you go, ‘He’s fighting the best in the world.’ But now you got to see him fight Nate Diaz who’s not the best in the world right now.
“He didn’t do great against Nate. He landed a lot of inside leg kicks. But if you fought Nate Diaz in a washed-up fight, you know that’s how you beat him. That’s why Conor — even though he got carried out of the Octagon in the rematch — was able to win because he just kept kicking the front leg of Diaz.”
Cormier has been forward about his assessment regarding Ferguson’s current career state, and he’s not seeing things picking up.
“Ferguson just… he just doesn’t seem to have it anymore, but he does not seem to have the self-awareness to understand it. He just doesn’t really want to walk away from the game, and I get it. It’s hard to walk away, but he just doesn’t have it anymore, man.
“I honestly don’t know who the UFC can match him up with anymore because if he had fought Li Jingliang, he would’ve lost. And it would’ve probably been worse because Li would have hit him with big shots early. I just don’t know who they can match this guy up with anymore.”
For his part, Ferguson says he was “sandbagging” his last four fights before facing Diaz, and only sees “growth” in his losses.