The polarizing reaction to the lightweight booking between Ferguson (25-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) and Pimblett (20-3 MMA, 4-0 UFC) at UFC 296, which takes place Dec. 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+, hasn’t gone unnoticed by White.
The matchup pits former interim UFC champ Ferguson, who is on a six-fight losing skid, against the heavily-hyped Scouser in Pimblett, who critics argue doesn’t have the skills to match his promotional fodder.
That exact storyline is why White was on board with making the fight.
“I think a lot of people think that Paddy is unproven, and I think a lot of people feel that Tony isn’t in deep water like he’s been in, in his last several fights,” White told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Tuesday’s DWCS 64 post-fight news conference. “I think the matchmaking and the timing on this fight is excellent and couldn’t be more perfect.
“If you look at Tony’s last few fights that he’s fought, he looked damn good before the (Michael) Chandler finish, and every fight that he’s fought on the last two, three fights. He looked damn good right until the end. So, it’s a fun, interesting fight with two fun and interesting characters.”
Part of White’s intrigue revolves largely around Ferguson, and how the 39-year-old will perform in this type of situation. Ferguson’s losing skid has come against Bobby Green, Nate Diaz, Chandler, Beneil Dariush, Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, all of whom have accomplished significantly more than Pimblett in the sport.
Another loss for Ferguson would be a detrimental blow to his future prospects, and White said if things don’t go his way, he would side with “El Cucuy” retiring from MMA competition.
“I would let Tony make that decision, but I’m sure if he loses to Paddy he would probably look at calling it,” White said. “He’s had a great career. Done a lot of things, had a lot of big fights. That would probably be a wrap for him. Hopefully.”