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06th Dec 2016

Everyone desperately trying to fight Conor McGregor really needs to pay attention to Tony Ferguson

The right attitude.

Ben Kiely

With Conor McGregor’s next move still a mystery, the ‘only hammerhead’ in the UFC’s lightweight shark tank is showcasing the perfect attitude to stay relevant.

The target on Conor McGregor’s back seems to be getting larger with each passing moment. His exceptional 2016 in which he added the UFC lightweight strap to his trophy cabinet has seen the Notorious solidify his place as the sport’s biggest superstar, and nearly every top fighter in the lighter divisions is trying their utmost to get a slice of that sweet, sweet Red Panty Night pie.

Jose Aldo threw his toys out of the pram when he was snubbed of an opportunity to exact revenge on him, while number-one 155 lb contender Khabib Nurmagomedov appears to be coming dangerously close to following the same route as Scarface. However, this obsession with securing that dance with the Dubliner is not a healthy or effective one, especially considering he looks likely to take some time off with the little Notorious set to arrive next year.

Sitting on the couch, spitting venom on social media and staying out of the Octagon won’t be the way to grab the lightweight champion’s attention if you’re not already a massive draw. That’s something that streaking 155 lber Tony Ferguson has no interest in engaging in. He’s in this game for one reason – to fight.

When McGregor dethroned Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, there was a sense that this would create a log jam in the division. It happened when he was top of the 145 lb pile and now we have yet another interim belt going on the line in UFC 206’s main event as a result.

Ferguson isn’t disheartened by the likelihood that his path to a title shot has become considerably more complicated with McGregor sitting on the throne. After racking up nine-straight wins in the UFC’s most populated division culminating in a sensational victory over former champion, one might think he feels entitled to a crack at the belt. However, that’s not his attitude at all, as he explained to FOX Sports.

“The belt is extra cookies on top of the cake but it’s not really something I’m focused on. Once I lose focus that’s when I’m going to go tumbling down the hill. I feel like I’ve gotten to this spot and I deserve whatever I get coming, which is that belt.”

“I’m looking for pound-for-pound list to be the best in the world and it takes belts to get there so let’s get there.”

Tony Ferguson suit

El Cucuy claimed that he had signed a deal to fight Nurmagomedov in a title eliminator bout at the UFC 208 which was scheduled to go down in Anaheim in January. The PPV was eventually scrapped entirely, which if Ferguson’s comments are to be believed, could have been a result of the Dagestani not being ready for the event.

“They wanted something to happen in Anaheim and I was pretty down for it. Khabib’s (Nurmagomedov) name came up and management talked about it and they came back at me that he needed more time. So whatever. It would have been awesome to fight in my hometown. It would have been bad ass.”

With no evidence to suggest Ferguson will be getting the nod to fight for the belt next, he plans on keeping his name in the conversation by staying active. If there are no more challenges left for him at 155 lbs, he’s more than willing to drop down to give another champion a scrap.

“Maybe Aldo. Jump down to 145, see what’s up down there. 155’s pretty fun. Maybe bump up to 170. Just thinking about my weight right now, my wife got me this juice cleanse because I was getting kind of heavy. I should step on the scale right now – 185.”

Ambitious, but it’s a great approach in this era of the online call-out. If that title shot doesn’t present itself, the best option is to keep beating the toughest opposition possible to give the matchmakers no option but to finally give you the call.