4 Reasons Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier Must Happen at UFC 254

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2020

4 Reasons Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier Must Happen at UFC 254

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    For people living in the time of the coronavirus, there are way more important things in life than co-main events of upcoming UFC pay-per-view cards. But that doesn't mean these lesser things lack merit.

    One might even argue that these smaller issues seem even more important in 2020 than they did in prior years. Yesterday's topics that were taken for granted have become many of today's most cherished delicacies.

    So it seems especially cruel for UFC President Dana White to suggest that a riveting lightweight battle between two of the best and most accomplished action fighters in the lightweight division was headed our way only to later look down at the floor and mumble something about one of them negotiating himself out of the fight.

    "He didn't want to fight," White said earlier this week, and that's code for Poirier wanting more money than the company wanted to pay.

    Still, there are plenty of reasons Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier should still happen at UFC 254 on October 24.

Tony Ferguson

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    Does Tony Ferguson deserve a chance to face fellow star Dustin Poirier?
    Does Tony Ferguson deserve a chance to face fellow star Dustin Poirier?John Locher/Associated Press

    There might not be any single better reason for the fight than this one: Ferguson deserves it.

    Riding a 12-fight win streak in the UFC, the 36-year-old was finally set to get his shot at grabbing the undisputed lightweight championship against Nurmagomedov at UFC 249, only to see the whole world suddenly fall apart around him thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Despite the horrid shuffle of just about everyone's lives, the card was rescheduled quickly by the UFC. But instead of getting his hands on Nurmagomedov as long desired, Ferguson ended up sharing the cage with late-notice opponent Justin Gaethje because travel restrictions had left Nurmagomedov stuck in Russia.

    Ferguson moved forward anyway and fought at UFC 249 during arguably the toughest time in recent sports history to compete. He ended up losing that fight to Gaethje and his chance to face Nurmagomedov with it.

    But most fighters would have found a way out of that tough spot instead of going through with it. That's why Ferguson deserves the chance to face a fellow star in Poirier in a fight he's already stated clearly that he wants to happen next.

Dustin Poirier

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    Dustin Poirier is already one half of a Fight of the Year candidate for 2020.
    Dustin Poirier is already one half of a Fight of the Year candidate for 2020.Jon Gambrell/Associated Press

    Speaking of a fighter who deserves the epic clash, hasn't Poirier earned the nod in that same category, too?

    "The Diamond" already spilled his own blood (and his opponent's) in that epic five-round bloodbath against Dan Hooker over the summer. That barnburner is sure to be on everyone's shortlist for Fight of the Year in 2020, and the win also kept Poirier ranked near the top of the 155-pound mountain.

    But it was just another victory in a long line of excellent wins by Poirier in big spots. He's been one of the toughest and most accomplished fighters in the sport, and he's made his name already as a star attraction.

    Even more important? Poirier once again delivered all those goods in an action-packed and fan-friendly way.

    So Poirier deserves a big fight, too. Nothing would be bigger or better for his career right now than facing Ferguson at UFC 254.

    MMA Junkie's Dave Doyle reported Poirier's current UFC deal gives him $150,000 to show up at the venue and $150,000 more to win the fight, and it would seem some wiggle room might exist for the popular star to get a bump in pay.

    Whatever that new number might be, it has to be worth it.

UFC 254 Winner

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    Who's next in line for the winner of UFC 254?
    Who's next in line for the winner of UFC 254?Mahmoud Khaled/Associated Press

    UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje is sure to be one of the biggest and most important events of the entire year. But once the main event is over, the division will need clarity about what should or even could come next.

    That holds true based on just about any possible outcome.

    If Nurmagomedov wins and plans on securing his dream superfight against retired legend Georges St-Pierre in what would be Nurmagomedov's final fight, the other top lightweights will want to have things sorted out atop the deep heap of stars to help crown a new champ.

    If either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje wins and decides to next defend his new undisputed status against the next best contender, things would be much clearer if that name was already decided.

    With apologies to new UFC signee Michael Chandler, a three-time Bellator champ, the division's top two contenders are quite clearly Poirier and Ferguson, and the only way to settle things between the two is a fight against each other.

Good Business

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    Do the fans deserve Poirier vs. Ferguson?
    Do the fans deserve Poirier vs. Ferguson?Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    In the combat sports world, the UFC is already king. UFC President Dana White and company didn't get to the top of the heap by putting together bad business deals or fights nobody wants to see. 

    Instead, the UFC has become the pinnacle of combat sports promotional companies, and second place isn't even all that close.

    Still, the proposed Ferguson vs. Poirier fight would seem like an opportunity for the company to do even more good business than it's already doing. Even if it costs a little more money than the promotion wants to spend, it's smart to focus on fights fans want to see right now because it only helps to continue to separate the UFC from the pack.

    Both Ferguson and Poirier are legit fan favorites in the sport. Both have accomplished incredible things, and yet somehow these veterans have never faced each other.

    That could and probably should change at UFC 254. It would be one of the most compelling matchups that could be made this year, and there's still time to make it happen.