Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson face off tonight in a 3 round contest at UFC 238. Many UFC fight fans are quietly grumbling that this is not a 5 round fight. It is absolutely 100% correct that the UFC did not go this route.
While Henry Cejudo and Valentina Shevchenko defend their respective titles as the main event and co-main event on this PPV card, there is little doubt that Cowboy and El Cucuy are by some distance the main attraction.
So why then shoe-horn them into a 3 rounder, you might well ask?
Safety might well be the reason.
Donald Cerrone fought just 5 weeks ago. In a brilliant, measured performance he won a pulsating 5 round contest against Al Iaquinta on May 4th 2019.
In typical Cowboy fashion instead of sitting pretty and waiting to see what way the wind blows in the lightweight division, Cerrone has decided to take all his chips and once again push them directly into the centre of the table. No other UFC fighter would have taken the fight against Tony Ferguson on this kind of notice. Like No-One.
The concession to him, might well have been to make it a 3 round fight. I have him as a big underdog going into this one despite the fact he is on a 3 fight win streak. At his age he needs closer to 5 months recovery than 5 weeks. A decision loss, is a result that won’t see his stock plummet.
There is no way I would see a 5 round fight between these two going the distance. Combined they have just too much fire-power for that to happen. A guy like Al Iaquinta can win a fight in a small number of ways. Cowboy and Ferguson can win a fight in any number of ways. Both are black belt’s in Jiu-jitsu. Both have enough TKO wins to feel confident of winning a battle of the strikes. Ferguson is a champion college wrestler on top of that.
Ferguson for my money is the 2nd best lightweight fighter in the world. He is also the most exciting to watch. A man blessed with a huge offensive tool-set that is only somewhat offset by a suspect chin. This combination ensure his fights are must watch experiences.
At this stage, we’re all aware of Ferguson’s much publicized mental frailties outside the ring, culminating in his wife’s seeking a restraining order. To my knowledge, this was done to make her husband face up to his deteriorating mental state, rather than any fear she had for her own safety. The order has since been rescinded.
This, combined with a year out due to reconstructive knee surgery, means Ferguson has only actually fought once in the last 20 months. Albeit a highly impressive win against Anthony Pettis late last year.
Again, similiar to Cowboy, I think a 3 round fight is in Ferguson’s interests. Both have the tool-sets to inflict heavy, heavy damage on each other over a 5 round fight and I don’t believe either man is in the correct mental or physical condition to risk that type of beating.
The obvious prize for both men is a guaranteed title shot against the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier. Both are long overdue the honour.
One Guy’s mind probably needs more rest.
One Guy’s Body probably needs more rest.
A slightly stronger mind normally trumps a slightly stronger body.
Written by: Gerry O’Neill