UFC 262 - Ferguson vs Dariush - Analysis & Prediction
Tony Ferguson vs Beneil Dariush
In the co-main event we have another fun one. Also in the lightweight division, Beneil Dariush steps up for the biggest fight of his career against Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson. Let’s take a look at both combatants.
Tony “El Cucuy'' Ferguson (25-5-0) at one point, had an absurd 12 fight UFC winning streak going. In that stretch there was a series of bad injuries that kept him from getting a shot at UFC gold. That opportunity finally did come to fruition though in the form of an interim title fight against Justin Gaethje but holy hell did it not go well for Ferguson. He took 100 significant strikes to the head but I swear the majority of them would have killed a normal human. Talk about being too tough for your own good. He followed that up by getting outclassed on the ground by the man in the main event, Charles Oliveira. Before it all went south, The Boogeyman did have big wins against notable names (Barbosa, Cerrone, Pettis, Lee).
Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) has quietly put together a 6 fight winning streak split evenly among decisions, TKO/KO’s and submissions. None of those competitors he beat were in the top 10. The closest being Diego Ferreira who was in the top 15 and that fight was a very close split decision. The fighter out of Kings MMA has exceptional BJJ and Muay Thai skills that he puts on display in every fight.
How They Match Up
In the stand up department, Dariush is going to have the edge. Ferguson has 12 TKO’s on his record but he ends up getting those from volume. One punch knockout power isn’t really his M.O (his last legit KO came in 2014). Dariush has shown that he does have that kind of power as well as creativity in his striking. Factor in the beating Ferguson took over 5 rounds to Gaethje (which remained entirely on the feet), and it’s apparent he lost a step. Reflexes, defense, speed all seemed to resemble going toe to toe with Father Time recently.
On the ground both guys are high level Brazillian Jiu Jitsu black belts which makes it even more impressive what Oliveira did to Ferguson in his last fight. However, Dariush is the superior wrestler, racking up takedowns against all opponents during this winning streak (minus one fight where he knocked out Holtzman in the first). I don’t even remember the last time Ferguson scored a takedown. In short, Dariush has the option to dump Ferguson on his back if he so wishes.
So as you’re reading this I’m sure it’s sounding like Dariush is a lock (spoiler: there’s no locks in MMA), but there is one more huge monkey in the wrench. Cardio. Even with Ferguson’s steep decline there is one attribute that he remains in an elite class. His ridiculous cardiovascular system. I bet he’s running right now. He will hold a sizable advantage over Dariush here. We have seen Beneil outright gas out as well as slow down considerably at various points after round 1 in many fights.
Just to add one more x factor here. If you look back at all those wins Ferguson had during that 12 fight run, a lot of them had the crowd going nuts in back and forth exciting wars. He’s been in a small pile of main events and co main events where he’s always performed well so the bright lights have always been his friend. The one thing his last two recent disastrous losses had in common - both behind closed doors with no crowd. Not sure if that's entirely the reason but at the very least, it's worth noting.
Even with the cardio advantage and potential crowd boost, I’m not sure it will be enough to bridge the gap between the various technical MMA disadvantages Ferguson will face. He will most likely need some abhorrent judging to get the job done (which to be fair, we have seen a ton of lately), so that’s not quite enough for me to pick a resurgence of the boogeyman. I’d say the torch gets passed to the younger, more skilled fighter who has taken way less damage over his career.