IT’S TIME FOR THE MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING… the end of Tony Ferguson’s career? The UFC in 2023 saw a great deal of prolific fighters announce their retirement and put the gloves away. This great exodus of fighters away from the promotion has sparked conversation around many more whose careers are likely on their final leg. MMA is a young sport and it is no secret that age has played into the trajectory of many fighters careers. The threshold has been set by many fans at 35 years of age. With a fighter typically only being offered 1-3 fights a year that can lead to fighters falling victim to their age and no longer finding success in the octagon.
Tony Ferguson: Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson was once a legendary fighter in the lightweight division and former interim champion has now increased his losing streak to 7. Seven losses in the past 3 years after 12 consecutive wins over 6 years has been one of the worst career turnarounds seen in the sport. Tony Ferguson is 39 years of age and the trajectory of his career seems set. After losing to Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, and Michael Chandler it has become clear that Tony can no longer stand with top contenders. That then leads to Tony facing off against opponents like Bobby Green and Paddy Pimblett.
Tony at 39 years old is nowhere near an attempt at the lightweight title. Will Dana White, current UFC president, keep Tony along to keep him fighting down the rankings? It is unclear where Ferguson’s career is headed. Many fans and White included have made their voices heard as they sympathetically call for retirement. Dana White during the post-fight press conference following UFC 296 shared a few words over why he sees it that way; “I would love to see Tony [Ferguson] retire… Tony tonight looked like he should retire”. However Tony has made it very clear that he does not wish to retire and many fans have backed him. 2024 will be the year to determine whether Ferguson stays, retires, or even gets cut from the organization. Tony has been largely consistent and has had 2 fights per year in 2022 and 2023, and with his eagerness to remain active and in the organization time will tell on if Dana White will continue to book him. Tony is currently unranked among the lightweight top 15.
Colby Covington: Colby “Chaos” Covington has entered the realm of forced retirement following his loss against Welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, which is his third loss in a championship title fight. Covington saw two attempts at the title against former champion, Kamaru Usman, and the aforementioned loss against current champion Leon Edwards. The question now is, “Is Colby Covington out of title contention for good?”. Covington is 35 years of age, the possibility of Colby continuing further does have a certain amount of time left on it as with age tends to come weaker performances. However, Colby could have saved himself a for more years in his future as he claims to fight at his walking weight as to not be a “weight bully” as he accuses others in the sport of being so.
After his latest loss Covington made an interesting callout and failed to make the call most fans were wanting to hear. Rising Kazakhstani star, Shavkat Rakhmanov, has been clearing a path through the welterweight rankings and many were anticipating a fight between Rakhmanov and Convington to put him in title contention. Instead, Covington called out Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who Rakhmanov submitted during UFC 296. If the fight were made could it be the first fight to start Covington fighting down the rankings leading to retirement. Colby currently sits on a number 5 ranking in the welterweight top 15.
Wonderboy: Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been in the UFC for nearly 14 years and will be turning 41 later in 2024. The latter half of Thompson’s career has seen mixed results. With 6 losses since in his last ten fights, one being a title attempt, Wonderboy will likely retire soon as he has found success in many other avenues. Wonderboy currently sits at a number 7 rankings in the welterweight top 15.
Clay and Jim: Clay Guida and Jim Miller are certainly veterans in the organization, both of whom have been fighting for 9-10 years. Clay Guida holding the all time UFC record for most losses, Miller on the other end holds the all time most wins record for the organization. Both are unranked. It is unclear when Guida will fight next, he has stayed active through recent years so it is likely we will see him again this year. Guida is also a bright 42 years of age.
Miller on the other hand is set to fight Bobby Green on the early prelims of UFC 300 in April of 2024. Miller has fought on the card of UFC 100, 200, and with 300 coming up it is likely it will be Millers last or close to his last. Miller is 40 and fighting at 155 pounds and time will tell how many more fight camps and weight cuts the veteran has left.