It was recently announced that Tony Ferguson will be moving up to welterweight for his next fight to take on Li Jingliang at UFC 279 on September 10th, and ex-UFC fighter turned analyst Chael Sonnen is far from impressed with the matchmaking.
“I don’t like it,” Sonnen said on the MMA Hour show.
“You want to talk about Charles Oliveira and you want to talk about what a big star he is — they say that him versus [Justin] Gaethje was the biggest pay-per-view of the year, not to mention this year had the heavyweight fight between the [interim] champion and the undisputed [champion], and you’re still telling me that Oliveira-Gaethje was No. 1? Oliveira doesn’t exist, that belt doesn’t exist and the story doesn’t exist, if Tony Ferguson — who was up in the loft — had not dropped the ladder down so that Oliveira could climb up it.
“Now we’re going to bring Ferguson back, great story, he’s hanging in there, he’s traded camps, he’s doing things different, and you’re giving him — I don’t know of ‘Leech’ [Jingliang]. I don’t know if that’s his nickname or that’s his name, and I’m not trying to be a dick. I assume you call a guy a leech, like he claims to be — I haven’t the foggiest idea who we’ve got opposite Tony Ferguson or how we’re supposed to pretend that that matters.
“If ‘The Leech’ wins, what happens?
“I don’t think there should’ve been a press conference. I don’t think it was worthy. That’s the kind of fight you’d lay out the card and then you’d just mention it.”
Of course, Sonnen is exaggerating as while the 34-year-old Jingliang isn’t quite the kind of big name opponent that Ferguson is accustomed to, he is still an eight year UFC veteran who in recent years has fought the likes of Khamzat Chimaev, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Neil Magny and is coming off a TKO victory over Muslim Salikhov in July.
Meanwhile, the 38-year-old Ferguson is coming off four losses in a row against Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush and Michael Chandler, so putting him up against one of the bigger name stars at welterweight in his divisional debut wouldn’t necessarily be doing him any favors.