Tony Ferguson surprisingly suffered his second straight loss at UFC 256 on Saturday night.
Even more shocking than his defeat to Charles Oliveira, though, was the fact that he survived one of the most gruesome armbars in UFC history at the end of the first round.
Coming off a May stoppage defeat to Justin Gaejthe at UFC 249, Ferguson was aiming to get back into the win column with a victory. Brazil’s Oliveria, however, represented a stern test, having won each of his last seven UFC contests.
Oliveira showed he meant business from the outset, pressuring Ferguson throughout the opening stages of the fight – and things got even worse for ‘El Cucuy’ when Oliveira took the contest to the mat.
Oliveria dominated Ferguson on the ground for over three minutes, before opting to move in for a finish. With nine seconds to go in the round, submission specialist Oliveira slapped on a deep armbar, immediately hyperextending Ferguson’s left elbow.
Quite honestly, most fighters would have tapped at this point. However, Ferguson seemed intent on trying to survive until the end of the round. Realising this, Oliveira then tucked Ferguson’s arm under his own – adding even more pressure on his opponent’s limb. Ferguson still refused to tap.
So nasty was the angle at which Ferguson’s arm was bent that UFC commentator Daniel Cormier admitted on the broadcast that he had actually turned away from the action to stop himself from having to look at Ferguson’s elbow being bent in the wrong direction.
To his credit, Ferguson managed to make it through to the end of the three-round fight. His left arm, though, was obviously badly injured. Oliveira took a 30-26 victory on each of the judges’ scorecards, placing himself squarely in title contention in the UFC lightweight division.
Tony Ferguson entered 2020 riding a 12-fight winning streak. As we close the calendar year, he has now lost two straight bouts, both decisively. At 36 years old, there is a possibility that we might have now seen the best of him as a fighter.
For Charles Oliveira, on the other hand, UFC 256 could not have gone any better. His victory over Ferguson was, undoubtedly, the best of his career. The 31-year-old has now put himself in line for a potential meeting with the winner of next month’s Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier bout to decide the next lightweight champion.
On the evidence of Saturday night, whoever Oliveira fights next will want to avoid his armbar at all costs!