• Tony Ferguson's career has taken a drastic downturn since his loss to Justin Gaethje in 2020, with five additional losses, including a knockout and two submission losses. He is currently on a six-fight losing streak.
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov accurately predicted Ferguson's downfall, stating that after taking damage like he did against Gaethje, he would never be the same dominant fighter again.
  • Despite hopes of a comeback, Ferguson's recent fights have shown signs that he may no longer be able to compete at the highest level, leading fans to question if it is time for him to retire.

On the 9th of May 2020, Tony Ferguson was handed his fourth career defeat at the hands of Justin Gaethje, ending an eight-year and 12-fight winning streak.

Ferguson had been at the peak of his career and was dubbed as one of the greatest, and most popular, fighters in the UFC.

However, since his 2020 loss, El Cucuy has gone on to lose five more fights, including a knockout and two submission losses, with the most recent one coming last night at UFC 291. He is currently enduring a six-fight losing streak.

Khabib predicted Tony Ferguson's career downfall

Ferguson’s career decline would have been difficult for anyone to imagine in 2020, however, it seems Khabib Nurmagomedov correctly predicted his steep fall from grace.

In an interview after Ferguson’s defeat at UFC 249, Khabib said that he believes that the American fighter would taste defeat soon again.

“He’s gonna come back, and someone gonna beat him again,” Khabib said. “When you take damage like this, you’re never gonna be [the] same.”

Ferguson took heavy shots at UFC 249, and despite scoring a flash knockdown in the first round, the rest of the fight saw Gaethje dominate Ferguson, and with minutes left to go, the referee called an end to the bout.

Ferguson was visibly damaged, and it was later confirmed that he had suffered a broken orbital bone.

There were many people speculating as to why Gaethje had run out such a resounding victor. Perhaps it was because in the lead up to UFC 249, Ferguson had cut weight twice in the span of two weeks, which may have affected his reaction time, as well as minimised the power behind his shots.

But despite the attempts to explain what was really a surprise result, Khabib saw something in Ferguson that may not have caught the eye of viewers. He was adamant that after this fight, he was not going to continue to dominate in the way fans had come to expect.

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Tony Ferguson's six-fight losing streak

Certainly since then, Ferguson has struggled to return to his former self.

After the Gaethje loss, he was handed back-to-back unanimous decision defeats against Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush.

After that, he faced Michael Chandler at UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona. At times in the first round we saw glimpses of the former fighter and viewers would have been forgiven for thinking the match up might be El Cucuy’s return to glory.

But this hope was quickly stripped away as he was knocked out early into the second round. The first knockout defeat of his career.

After the fight, Ferguson issued a statement on Twitter saying he had lots of fun, and it felt good to “be back and hungry again. We were just getting started.”

Tony Ferguson has always wanted to fight Conor McGregor

It seemed that despite the loss, he could confidently take some hope from the match up and get back to his winning ways.

That has not been the case.

In September 2022, Ferguson was set to meet fellow American Nate Diaz at UFC 279.

Diaz was originally supposed to meet Khamzat Chimaev in the cage, but after Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds, it was confirmed that Ferguson would be Diaz's new opponent.

The fight was somewhat out-of-sync and humorous at times. At one point, Ferguson lay down on the mat and Diaz joked around and even interacted with the crowd. Both fighters had large support bases and certainly performed for the crowd at times.

While they may have joked around, Diaz still came out on top as he submitted Ferguson with a guillotine choke in the fourth round.

Tony Ferguson loved what Nate Diaz did immediately after UFC 279 fight

After the bout, the two fighters made it clear they had huge respect for each other. Diaz called Ferguson a “worthy OG representative of mixed martial arts,” while Ferguson said “it was the coolest experience I probably could have.”

Yet, while he may have had fun in the cage, the result still went down as a submission loss on Ferguson’s record and grew his losing streak to five fights. This type of streak would have been difficult to predict just a few years prior when Ferguson had been at the peak of his MMA career.

Tony Ferguson's loss at UFC 291

Last night, Ferguson returned to the lightweight division to face Bobby Green in Salt Lake City, at UFC 291.

There was much anticipation around the fight. Would this be Ferguson’s great comeback, or would this be the final signal of one of the greatest falls from grace in UFC history?

During the fight, there were times when the former looked possible. Ferguson even had the upper hand at times, but in the end, the 39-year-old was slapped with his sixth straight career loss.

In the final seconds of the third round, Ferguson was dropped to the ground and became stuck under Green’s hold. But, in typical Ferguson fashion, he did not tap out but was instead put to sleep.

Although Ferguson started out strong in the first round, as the bout progressed he visibly slowed down, which allowed Green to get a strong grip on the fight.

This was the third submission loss of his career, but perhaps more worryingly the fight showed signs that Ferguson may simply no longer be able to compete at the highest level.

Is it time for Tony Ferguson to retire?

After the fight ended, fans have been asking the question no athlete wants to hear. Is it time for Ferguson to hang up his gloves?

Back in 2020, when Ferguson had his loss to Gaethje, this type of question would have seemed hyperbolic to many, but maybe Khabib was right all along. After the damage he suffered, both physically and mentally, maybe it was impossible for him to ever be the same?


Certainly, the American has not been the same fighter since. He has struggled to emulate his former successes and after last night’s resounding defeat, it is difficult to envision that he can successfully overcome the hardships of years past and launch a convincing comeback.