A loser of four consecutive fights, former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson finds himself in a must-win situation against welterweight veteran Li Jingliang at UFC 279.
Ferguson and ‘The Leech’ are set for co-main event honors on the September 10th pay-per-view, which needed some boosting given the lack of name value below Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz. For Ferguson, he’s already switched camps and now is fighting at welterweight for the first time since winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2013.
In an appearance on The MMA Hour, Chael Sonnen expressed his dislike for the fight, although it went in more of a direction of Ferguson’s opponent than Tony himself.
“I don’t like it,” Sonnen said (via MMA Fighting).
“You want to talk about Charles Oliveira and you want to talk about what a big star he is — they say that him versus [Justin] Gaethje was the biggest pay-per-view of the year, not to mention this year had the heavyweight fight between the [interim] champion and the undisputed [champion], and you’re still telling me that Oliveira-Gaethje was No. 1? Oliveira doesn’t exist, that belt doesn’t exist and the story doesn’t exist, if Tony Ferguson — who was up in the loft — had not dropped the ladder down so that Oliveira could climb up it.
“Now we’re going to bring Ferguson back, great story, he’s hanging in there, he’s traded camps, he’s doing things different, and you’re giving him — I don’t know of ‘Leech’ [Jingliang]. I don’t know if that’s his nickname or that’s his name, and I’m not trying to be a dick. I assume you call a guy a leech, like he claims to be — I haven’t the foggiest idea who we’ve got opposite Tony Ferguson or how we’re supposed to pretend that that matters.”
Jingliang (19-7) has been in the UFC since 2014 and has amassed an 11-5 record inside the Octagon. He’s coming off a TKO win over Muslim Salikhov at last month’s UFC Long Island card, and at the moment he’s No. 14 in the official UFC welterweight rankings. Admittedly, he’s not exactly the highest profile opponent Ferguson has faced recently, and that seems to be part of why Sonnen isn’t enthused by this matchup.
“If ‘The Leech’ wins, what happens?” Sonnen said.
“I don’t think there should’ve been a press conference,” Sonnen continued. “I don’t think it was worthy. That’s the kind of fight you’d lay out the card and then you’d just mention it.”
Well if ‘The Leech’ does win, that might be the end of the UFC career of Ferguson. Tune in on September 10th and find out how much ‘El Cucuy’ has left in the tank as he looks for his first win since 2019.