The former UFC interim lightweight champion returns on the final pay-per-view of 2023, where he takes on British star Paddy Pimblett at UFC 296 in Las Vegas.
Many didn’t think this should’ve been the type of fight for Ferguson (25-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) next and saw it as the UFC trying to use Ferguson to bolster Pimblett’s (20-3 MMA, 4-0 UFC) status in the promotion.
While there might be some aspect to that, with Pimblett getting one of the most popular names in the division, Schaub actually thinks this was the way to for “El Cucuy.”
“When this first got announced, a close friend of mine texted me saying, ‘It’s not announced yet, but I think they’re doing Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett,’ and I go, ‘Finally. Finally, Tony gets a winnable fight,'” Schaub said on his YouTube channel. “… Not that it’s an easy fight, but look at his last seven fights. Bobby Green, he got submitted, that was a tough one. But Nate Diaz, which was short notice, Michael Chandler, (Beneil) Dariush, Charles Oliveira and Justin Gatheje. Before that, it was (Donald) Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, (Rafael) Dos Anjos. What? Look at who he’s fighting.”
Schaub thinks that Ferguson, although older and with more damage, is much better than Pimblett from a technical standpoint. He thinks this will be Pimblett’s toughest test in the UFC.
“My question for anybody going, ‘Oh, I see what the UFC is doing with this. It’s clear as day. They’re just feeding this young lion to Tony Ferguson,'” Schaub said. “My question for you guys is: Do you really think Paddy Pimblett won his last fight? Most don’t. He’s probably coming off a loss against Jared Gordon. Before that, the only people Paddy has beat was Jordan Leavitt, (Rodrigo) Vargas. They’re impressive fights, but he’s been hit in all those fights. … What aspect of MMA is Paddy Pimblett better at than Tony Ferguson? Striking? No. Grappling? No. Wrestling? No way.”
Even though Schaub sees Ferguson as a better fighter, he still stayed away from making an early prediction. Schaub mainly refutes the idea that Ferguson is just an easy stepping stone for Pimblett.
“I’m not saying I’m picking Tony to win,” Schaub said. “I’m just saying, this isn’t a terrible fight for Tony. It’s not some weird fight where the UFC is feeding some young lion this old, weathered veteran.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.