According to UFC president Dana White, Tony Ferguson won’t be returning to the octagon at UFC 254 as expected.
The UFC originally had hoped to have Ferguson (25-4 MMA, 15-2 UFC) fight fellow former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC) at the Oct. 24 event in Abu Dhabi, but a contract dispute with Poirier put the breaks on making it official.
Ferguson has since stood by Poirier, encouraging the UFC on multiple occasions to meet his asking price. White said it’s not happening, though, and insinuated that Poirier negotiated himself out of a deal because he “didn’t want to fight.”
On Tuesday, White said that, with Poirier out of the picture, a new fight had been presented to Ferguson, and he expected “El Cucuy” to accept.
“I told you we’ve got a fight,” White said at the DWCS 33 post-fight news conference. “I don’t see Tony not accepting the fight.”
“There’s a lot of different ways to turn down a fight. Negotiating yourself out of one is one of the ways you can do it.”
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) September 16, 2020
Just a few days later, though, the promotion announced Thursday that it had signed former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, who will serve as a backup for the UFC 254 title unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
With Chandler preparing to compete at UFC 254, anyway, having him fight Ferguson would seem to be a natural fit. White didn’t specify if that was the matchup offered to Ferguson but said the promotion has moved on after “El Cucuy” and his team, who have reportedly dug in alongside Poirier to make the original fight happen, didn’t respond in a timely fashion.
“They went quiet on us,” White told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter on Thursday. “We couldn’t get a fight done.”
White reiterated his stance that anyone who isn’t keen to accept his fight offers would be left behind as he looks to fill up a 2020 schedule that has events confirmed for every Saturday through Dec. 19.
“When I call you and you want to fight (then) fight,” White said. “If you don’t, no problem. I’m not pushing anybody to fight. … You don’t want to fight? We move on, and we make other fights.”