At UFC 135, one man could not keep his jaw from dropping. That man was Aaron Riley.
Riley, an MMA veteran looking to make a run at the title, held no answer for the man that stood across from him in the cage. Tony Ferguson, his opponent, ran through Riley. Riley never managed to pose a threat to "El Cucuy," and it cost him dearly.
About halfway through the first round, Ferguson landed a strong lead left uppercut. The force of the blow broke Riley's jaw, which had been broken once before in his bout with Spencer Fisher. Riley, being the warrior that he is, fought through the rest of the first round, when his corner stopped the fight, giving Ferguson his first win in the UFC post-TUF.
Riley's broken jaw was surely not anything any fan wants to see happen in a fight, but the striking display Ferguson put on during the first round certainly was jaw-dropping. He looked fantastic against a guy who has been around a long time in the sport, and that says miles about how far he can go.
So far, he has been ultra impressive every time in the cage, constantly developing his striking, and has not looked to be in trouble once in his short UFC career.
Ferguson comes from a very strong wrestling background, becoming an All-American twice and a national champion once in his college career at Central Michigan. That is the scary part.
He does not ever look to take the fight to the ground. He is a sprawl-and-brawl fighter, using that amazing wrestling to keep the fight standing, where he is always looking for the knockout.
So far, in his UFC career, he has delivered. He finished every one of his opponents in his stint on "The Ultimate Fighter." He knocked out what seemed to be a very promising prospect in Ramsey Nijem to win the coveted six-figure contract. Now, he has decisively won his first fight in the big leagues, and forced a respected veteran in Riley to end his fighting career.
He does not seem to be slowing down. In a lightweight division that is relatively weak on pure, one-punch knockout power, Ferguson seems like he can deliver. If his wrestling pedigree is anything to go off, it seems like he may be able to become a very serious contender in the division.
That being said, there are still many questions lingering the young prospect: Can he take a punch? How is his cardio? Is his jiu-jitsu good enough to avoid submission by the upper echelon? We just do not know that yet. As with any prospect, he still needs growth.
All questions aside, Ferguson seems like he can have a very bright future as a contender in the UFC. If the other night suggests anything, it is that this kid could very well be a threat to any fighter in the division.