Justin Gaethje Says Tony Ferguson Was Never an ‘Elite’ UFC Lightweight

Published 01/28/2021, 12:30 PM EST
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 23: Justin Gaethje poses on the scale during the UFC 254 weigh-in on October 23, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)


Justin Gaethje is still licking his wounds from his loss against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. However, ‘The Human Highlight Reel’ is not done calling his shots. Despite falling to Khabib in a relatively one-sided fight, Gaethje retains his place as one of the top lightweights in the division. He earned that position with a massive win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.

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Ferguson has been on a rough patch since his loss to Gaethje. He followed that up by losing his comeback fight to Charles Oliveira. That result has led Gaethje to deem Ferguson as no longer an elite Lightweight fighter.

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“I mean, Tony has always been that man. Guys constantly went in there and fought in the chaos and refused to create space. I don’t know why. Pettis and Cerrone, these guys weren’t able to do what I did.”

Gaethje added, “His face alone makes you wanna fight. I don’t think he’s done by any means, I just don’t think he’s an elite lightweight. Don’t think he ever was. I just think his skills were very effective in the way people were fighting him.”

Justin Gaethje: Damning revelation on Tony Ferguson’s current status?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: Tony Ferguson poses on the scale during the UFC 256 weigh-in at UFC APEX on December 11, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

While Justin Gaethje did say that he feels Ferguson was never elite, that is a hard topic to sell. Ferguson went on one of the most-iconic win streaks in UFC history, let alone the division. He will go down as one of the best to never win a belt. Sadly, it looks like he won’t be in belt conversation anytime soon.

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Gaethje may be right about Tony Ferguson not being able to hang with the elite anymore, though. Tony is entering his late-thirties and has fought a very damage intensive style his entire career. It seems the damage has been catching up to him. Both Oliveira and Gaethje beat Ferguson with ease, showing that there is a distance between Ferguson and the new elite.

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While Tony will still get another big fight, many wonder whether it will be worth it. His name is slowly disappearing from the title talk. it genuinely seems that the era of ‘El Cucuy’ may have come and gone.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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