Following UFC 236, promotional president Dana White pressed pause on Tony Ferguson’s return, revealing UFC medical experts had yet to examine the fighter.
Less than a week ago, former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson claimed on social media that he had been cleared to fight. The news came in the wake of a disturbing story that began when Ferguson’s wife took a restraining order out against him. However, rather than painting a picture of a man out of control, Christina Ferguson’s story leading up to filing for a restraining order spoke of a man dealing with a serious mental health crisis.
Not even a month after the story broke, however, Ferguson claimed on Twitter that he was ready to get back to work. “Passed my Med Eval last week,” he wrote. “I’m excited about retaining my UFC lightweight status that was stripped due to injury. Khabib [Nurmagomedov, lightweight champion] not actively competing over some time should be stripped.” Ferguson then went on to call for a fight between the two.
Passed my Med Eval last week. I’m excited about retaining my ufc Lightweight Status that was stripped due to injury. Khabib not actively competing over some time should be stripped. A high Rank title fight/superfight between @TeamKhabib & I is what the fans want #defendorvacate pic.twitter.com/Iyq5Tff6ww
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) April 7, 2019
Khabib, of course, was not stripped of his undisputed lightweight title. However, the UFC opted to square off Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway for an interim 155lb belt atop the UFC 236 card on Saturday. Poirier won a five round unanimous decision, claiming his first belt in the promotion.
Post-fight, asked about Ferguson’s claims that he could return, UFC President Dana White pumped the brakes. “I don’t know if Tony’s ready to fight. I don’t know if that’s absolutely accurate,” White said. “We haven’t had anybody evaluate him yet.”
Any medical evaluation Ferguson underwent, it seems, was via his own doctors. Ultimately, the UFC medical staff will likely have the final say.
As to any potential fight with Khabib, that seems off the table as well. After all, the Holloway fight at UFC 236 was supposed to feature Ferguson, not Poirier. “This was his fight. This was supposed to be [Tony] and Max tonight,” said White during the press conference. “This was his fight. He turned it down. We made it very clear that the winner of this fight, just like Israel and Kelvin, would fight for the title. Unless something happens to Dustin Poirier, he gets hurt, he gets injured, or something happens. He’s got the fight.”
Ferguson now remains in a holding pattern, although match-ups with either Conor McGregor or Justin Gaethje are a possibility — if UFC doctors clear Ferguson.