It is officially set for UFC 274: ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler meets Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.
Michael Chandler is on an absolute tear in terms of his matchmaking since debuting for the UFC in January 2021. His first fight came against Top 10 lightweight in Dan Hooker, disposing of the New Zealand native in the first round by TKO. He followed that up with a title fight for the vacant lightweight strap against surging Charles Oliveira. Though he lost the bout by TKO, Chandler himself had shining moments in the bout and was within seconds of winning that elusive title in the first round. Then, most recently in November 2021, he capped off his monumental rookie year with the UFC on a fight of the year winner against Justin Gaethje.
Now, 35 years old and set to begin his 2022 campaign, Michael Chandler (22-7) faces off against a former Interim lightweight champion.
Enter Tony Ferguson.
Once upon a time, Tony Ferguson was regarded as the top, if not number two, best lightweight in the world from 2017-2020. He was on a historic 12 fight win streak that spanned between 2013-2020, defeating tough opposition such as Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Rafael Dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, not to mention the biggest win of his career, defeating Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight championship.
In 2020, Ferguson lost for the first time since 2013, falling victim to a vicious beating from Justin Gaethje that cost Ferguson the undisputed title shot that has eluded him for his entire career. Then, in November 2020, ‘El Cucuy’ fought and was dominated on the ground by Charles Oliveira before Oliveira had gone on to challenge Chandler for the title. Finally, in April 2021, Ferguson once again was dominated on the ground this time by Beneil Dariush.
Now 38 years old, and also in need of a win, Tony Ferguson (25-6) finds himself at a crossroads. But Chandler won’t make it easy for him. Both men bring an exciting style of striking, with an iron chin on both of their parts as well as major skills on the ground.
Michael Chandler being the younger, more athletic fighter is slated to be the favorite in this contest. Tony Ferguson will really have to bring back the old ‘Cucuy’ that propelled him to numerous wins for him to have a chance here.