Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
In the lightweight featured bout of UFC 274, Ferguson will take on former Bellator champion and one-time UFC title challenger Michael Chandler at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. With “El Cucuy” competing for the first time in a year, Anik is hopeful Ferguson — who enters the contest in a three-fight skid — will be able to show flashes of brilliance that made him one of the most feared 155-pounders in UFC history.
“I just hope he competes well,” Anik told MMA Fighting. “I don’t think this is going to be the last Tony Ferguson fight week by any stretch of the imagination. I still think there’s some fight left in the dog, even if that might be the minority opinion.
“It seems like he’s hit the reset button, the year away, bringing in the old college wrestling coach. I like the matchmaking and we’ll see what Tony can do with it.”
Earlier in the week, Anik took to Twitter to reveal he has seen a lot of love for Ferguson ahead of the matchup with Chandler as he looks to bounce back from losses against UFC 274 headliners Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, along with Beneil Dariush during his current streak.
It’s nice to see all the love out there for the legend Tony Ferguson as this UFC 274 fight week gets underway. He faces Michael Chandler as part of a massive PPV this Saturday from Phoenix, Arizona. Few more sleeps is all…
— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) May 2, 2022
For the longtime UFC commentator, being able to have a spotlight shone upon resumés and body of work means a lot more to him than most.
“Well I’m not looking for it, but I kind of am looking for it because I’ve been trying to put this guy on a pedestal for years,” Anik explained. “If it were not for a wayward television cord, there would be no debate as to whether or not he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Some people don’t care as much as I do about these legacies being acknowledged to that extent, but I just love Tony’s style, i love how hard he was worked.
“You want to talk about inimitable, you want to talk about one and only, you want to talk about a fighter you want to tell your kids about — Nate Diaz is another guy — but it’s Tony Ferguson. There’s only one, and I look forward to showing my daughters and my son film on him when they have more of an appetite for all sorts of red stuff spilling out everywhere. But I guess I like to see the avid fan sort of acknowledge his legacy when it is his fight week.”
Chandler enters the fight coming off of back-to-back losses to Saturday’s lightweight championship participants and will do so as a massive betting favorite.
With many questions left to be answered at the top of the lightweight division, Anik — who will call the action on Saturday alongside Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier — feels there could be a lot more at stake in the matchup between Chandler and Ferguson than meets the eye.
“The top of the division is interesting because, what if Tony Ferguson is able to do something this weekend? All of a sudden, he’s in the top-five, coming off of a win, and there’s going to be some groundswell of support to get him some sort of [big] fight,” Anik said. “Now, If Islam Makhachev [sees this] we understand that nobody’s getting passed up in line, but there’s a lot of things that can happen this weekend, and the same can be said for Michael Chandler. If he wins this fight, he positions himself for a big fight — I don’t know if it’s going to be Dustin Poirier and I don’t know to the extent Poirier even wants that fight — but then Chandler could find himself in a title eliminator if he beats Tony Ferguson.
“The implications are vast. Conor McGregor factors in this mix, too, and you have an active champion that wants to collect scalps, and even if Justin Gaethje is the champion I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try to make a defense in short order. There’s so many ways you can stay relevant, but I still believe the best way is to compete every three months. But, yeah, we’re going to get some clarity one way or another.”