Tony Ferguson’s quest for the UFC lightweight title ended in vain once again after UFC 249 was scrapped by the UFC last week.

Ferguson was supposed to challenge for the UFC lightweight belt against champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the event which was booked for April 18, 2020, at the Barclays Center in New York. But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the bout was canceled and El Cucuy is left to wait again for his next shot at gold.

El Cucuy has won 12 straight fights and has put himself on top of the 155-pound division. Let’s review Ferguson’s rise by taking a look at his top UFC fights:

“Fighting" Ramsey Nijem, TUF 13 Finale

Tony Ferguson earned his UFC spot by winning The Ultimate Fighter 13 tournament. El Cucuy was a 10-2 fighter in the regional circuits when he got the call from the UFC to join the tournament. He was the 5th overall pick in the competition and was Brock Lesnar’s 3rd selection. Ferguson recorded three consecutive knockouts to enter the finals of TUF 13 against Ramsey Nijem. With a UFC contract on the line, Ferguson knocked out Nijem in the very first round to become the TUF 13 winner. El Cucuy’s less than four-minutes stoppage kicked off his UFC career in style and earned him his first-ever Fight of the Night Honors.

“Fighting" Mike Rio, UFC 166

After winning TUF 13, Ferguson went on to record back to back wins over Aaron Riley and Yves Edwards in 2011. Then he faced his toughest test to date against Michael Johnson. Johnson defeated Ferguson by unanimous decision at UFC of Fox 3 in 2012 and El Cucuy suffered an arm injury in that fight which would cause him to miss one year of action. Ferguson returned at UFC 166 to face Mike Rio.

Ferguson hurt Rio with a left hook two minutes into an entertaining fight. As Rio went for the takedown, Ferguson caught Rio and proceeded to submit him via D’Arce choke. The win was a perfect bounce-back performance for Ferguson who saw his seven-fight win streak snapped by Johnson in his previous fight. It was also his first Submission of the Night award in the UFC.

“Fighting" Katsunori Kikuno, UFC 173

Ferguson opened his UFC career with three straight wins. However, his stock took a bit of a dip after he lost to Michael Johnson. He bounced back with the submission of the night win over Mike Rio but it was his bout against Katsunori Kikuno which made everyone notice about Ferguson.

El Cucuy displayed the entire striking arsenal during his four-minute destruction of Kikuno. He walked his opponent down, landed big punches from start to finish, and bloodied him before finally putting the Japanese fighter for good. With his second straight win, Ferguson’s current 12-fight winning streak officially started.

“Fighting" Josh Thomson, UFC Fight Night 71

By 2015, Tony Ferguson had already earned a reputation as one of the top contenders in the UFC’s lightweight division. After night fights inside the UFC octagon, he had put up a record of 8-1 with six finishes and three post-fight bonuses. With his resume, Ferguson was already deserving of a title shot but that didn’t come. Instead, his next fight would be against a solid veteran in former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson at UFC Fight Night 71.

Ferguson wasn’t discouraged. Instead, he put on a very dominant offensive display against the former Strikeforce lightweight champion and owned Thompson for three rounds. Thompson didn’t quit but he was no match for Ferguson’s offensive firepower. El Cucuy did not get the finish here but he thrived in what was then the biggest moment of his UFC career. He also earned Performance of the Night honors for this bout.

“Fighting" Edson Barboza, TUF 22 Finale

Ferguson’s win over Josh Thompson announced his arrival as one of the top contenders in the 155-pound division. But Tony’s fight against Edson Barboza cemented his spot as one of the best lightweights in the business. This was the first booking of Ferguson vs Khabib but Nurmagomedov pulled out of this bout with an injury and Barboza took his spot. Barboza had won six out of his last fights heading to this contest and he was coming off a unanimous decision win over Paul Felder.

El Cucuy earned two post-fight bonuses as he was awarded both Performance and Fight of the Night for his second D’Arce choke win. Barboza is one of the best strikers in the lightweight division yet Ferguson chose to fight him with reckless abandon. Barboza had his moments and hurt Tony but El Cucuy didn’t mind getting hurt. He would display durability and amazing recovery skills here. After this fight, Ferguson had become a fan favorite because of his style.

“Fighting" Lando Vannata, UFC Fight Night 91

Finally, Tony Ferguson gained co-main event status. UFC Fight Night 91 was headlined by bantamweights Michael McDonald and John Lineker but it was Tony Ferguson who stole the show. El Cucuy was supposed to face Michael Chiesa here but the latter pulled out of the fight with two weeks left before the event. Promotional newcomer Lando Vannata took Chiesa’s spot and surprised Ferguson here.

Vannata rocked Ferguson early in the fight and even nearly finished off El Cucuy in the first round. However, Ferguson displayed the heart of a champion and roared back in the second round to submit the newcomer. El Cucuy would earn Fight of the Night honors in another bloody victory.

“Fighting" Rafael Dos Anjos, UFC Fight Night 98

After surviving Vannata, Tony Ferguson’s next fight was against former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event of the TUF: Latin America 3 Finale. Dos Anjos was looking to bounce back after losing his title to Eddie Alvarez in his previous bout but Ferguson had other plans in mind.

El Cucuy would go on to outpoint RDA in a five-round war that established him as a true title contender. Dos Anjos was the biggest challenge of his career and Ferguson passed it with flying colors. After that loss, Dos Anjos would move up to welterweight while Ferguson would earn a crack at the interim title in his next fight. Both fighters won Fight of the Night honors and for Ferguson, this was his sixth post-fight bonus in his last five bouts.

“Fighting" Kevin Lee, UFC 216

After getting his first main event assignment in his previous bout against Rafael Dos Anjos, Tony Ferguson got his first title shot in another headliner when he faced the Motown Phenom Kevin Lee for the interim UFC lightweight title at the main event of UFC 216. El Cucuy was supposed to fight Khabib at UFC 209 but after the latter was hospitalized due to weight cut issues, he settled for the interim belt against Lee.

Lee was not 100% due to his weight cut but that did not diminish Ferguson’s win. But once again, Ferguson displayed tremendous cardio, aggression, and skills to earn another stoppage win. Ferguson would later get stripped of the interim belt after he suffered an injury. In his next bout, he went to war with former champion Anthony Pettis is another Fight of the Night winner.

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