Former UFC interim champion Justin Gaethje believes Tony Ferguson has never been the elite lightweight fighter many other people do.
Gaethje dismantled “El Cucuy” in May 2020. “The Highlight” was dominating everything when they met, as he handed Ferguson’s first loss in 8 years.
The 36-year-old Ferguson lost his next outing when Charles Oliveira beat him in December.
“I mean, Tony has always been that man,” Gaethje told ESPN (via The Body Lock). “Guys constantly went in there and fought in the chaos and refused to create space. I don’t know why, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone, these guys weren’t able to do what I did. But I think that was there the whole time.
“Fans not being there really helped, stayed focus, keep everything internal. That’s a huge factor when you’re fighting Tony because just 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. I don’t think he ever was. I just think his skills were really effective in the way people were fighting him.”
That being said, “The Highlight” doesn’t believe the Ferguson who faced Oliveira was the same one that embarked on that streak.
“I was impressed with Oliveira but yeah, I don’t want to take anything away from him but Tony was not the same person,” Gaethje added. “No one’s going to be the same person after you get hit in the face that many times. Ever.
“You fight with less confidence and his confidence is something that made him so dangerous and his lack of confidence now is going to be a factor.”