Tony Ferguson believes Michael Chandler’s strong relationship with UFC president Dana White has helped him stake a claim to the lightweight title.
‘El Cucuy’ claimed that Chandler is a beneficiary of “Dana White privilege,” accusing the UFC president of favoritism.
Ferguson and Chandler are set to feature in the main card of UFC 262. While Chandler will face Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title, Ferguson will go up against Beneil Dariush in the co-main event.
Speaking at the UFC 262 pre-fight press conference, Tony Ferguson said Chandler turned down a possible fight against him at UFC 257.
Chandler signed with the UFC in September 2020. He served as a backup fighter for the UFC 254 main event clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Coming off a devastating loss to Gaethje in his previous fight, Ferguson remained keen to step into the octagon in December 2020. The 37-year-old fighter called out Chandler for the UFC 256 showdown, but the latter refused the offer and claimed he needed more time to prepare for the fight.
The timeline of callouts from Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson
Michael Chandler called out Tony Ferguson for the first time on November 10, one month before UFC 256.
On November 14, Ferguson responded to Chandler’s challenge and said he didn’t want to stay on the sidelines until January 23, 2021. El Cucuy claimed he would be willing to fight Chandler at UFC 256.
Four days later, Chandler spoke to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto and said there was a zero percent chance of him fighting Ferguson in December:
“There is a 0% chance I’ll fight Tony Ferguson in December. And I 100% know he knew that, because the UFC already told him that, and I’ve already said I’ll see him in January. Now that we have Conor [McGregor] fighting Dustin [Poirier] — it looks like that fight will get booked on Jan. 23 — they need a co-main event. Why wouldn’t it be Chandler vs. Ferguson.”
On the same day, Ferguson responded to Chandler and stayed firm on his decision to compete at UFC 256. He said Chandler could either accept the fight or move on to compete against someone else.
Ferguson ended up facing Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 and lost to the Brazilian in a fight that went the distance. Chandler, on the other hand, made a stunning UFC debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257.