In a bout that many are expecting to be a Fight of the Year candidate, Tony Ferguson will face Donald Cerrone for the chance to become the top contender at 155 pounds at UFC 238.
Since the fight was announced, the battle between former interim champion Tony Ferguson and surging contender Donald Cerrone has left fight fans virtually salivating about the matchup. A victory for either man cements the winner as the most dangerous threat to the victor of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier in September and would complete an incredible run back into title contention. So, who will prevail in the fight expected to steal the show at UFC 238?
— UFC (@ufc) June 6, 2019
One of the most frustrating storylines in MMA of the last two years is that circumstances have kept some of the biggest fights at lightweight from happening. “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson knows this first hand. On an 11-fight win streak that includes winning the interim lightweight championship in 2017, fights with both Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have still failed to materialize for different reasons. The fight with Nurmagomedov in particular, which has been canceled four times, is still considered one of the best fights that can be made.
Outside the cage, there is question of where Ferguson is mentally going into such a dangerous fight. The struggles in his personal life were made public. While things appear to be resolved, there is speculation that he may be rushing into the fight with Cerrone. To his credit, it would not be the first time he proved critics wrong. Last October, he had arguably the best performance of his career when he returned just months after a devastating knee injury to win a Fight of the Year candidate against former champion Anthony Pettis.
But if there is apparent turmoil on Ferguson’s side, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is the opposite as he has made believers again out of those who not so long ago had written him off. In 2018, Cerrone was on a three-fight losing streak and had fans wondering if he had burned the candle at both ends for too long. Instead, his recent success and return to lightweight have him on the cusp of challenging for UFC gold for only the second time in over 30 fights in the Octagon.
— UFC (@ufc) June 7, 2019
So, what can be expected when one of the most exciting and elite fighters in all of MMA meets the UFC’s leader in victories and finishes? Many are predicting a Fight of the Year candidate and for good reason. Both men fight with a high offensive output and are known for causing incredible damage in their fights.
Tony Ferguson should look to use forward pressure and make the fight ugly against “Cowboy.” “El Cucuy” is a multi-faceted fighter but the best route to success is to push forward and not give Cerrone the room to maneuver in the center of the Octagon. If the fight goes the distance, Ferguson should target shots to the body and leg kicks to chop away at the stamina of Donald Cerrone. Use of this strategy will be two-fold as it will wear down his opponent as well as create opportunities to land a fight-ending shot.
Cerrone’s attack should consist of straight punches thrown with high volume. Ferguson will be looking to walk him down so being able to outwork him will be critical to slowing the onslaught. “Cowboy” does his best work when he is able to keep the fight at mid-range in the center of the Octagon and use a versatile attack. Even if he does not land the blow that stops Ferguson or does serious damage, throwing with high volume will force the normally aggressive former champion to take more risks as he attempts to close the deficit and thus create openings that Cerrone can exploit.
It would be hard to deny the winner the next shot at the UFC lightweight title and they will in all likelihood also be asked to be prepared should any complication arise in September when Nurmagomedov and Poirier are set to square off. While an early 2020 date would be expected, a late 2019 title fight is not out of the question depending on the health of the champion following the summer unification bout.