Shock waves were felt across the world when the UFC announced that Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone will face Tony 'El Cucuy' Ferguson in the main card of UFC 238. The match seeks to end the speculation of who will face the winner between interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier and current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the future. Fans of the UFC are in for a treat as two of the arguably best fighters in lightweight division history meet face-to-face for the first time ever. Cerrone (36-11, 1 NC) was impressive in his dominant decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC Ottawa earlier this month while Ferguson (24-3) makes his return to the octagon after dealing with personal issues that kept him aside from the sport for over several months.
The scheduled three-round contest will give everyone a clear indication of which fighter deserves a title shot in the next chapter of this drama-filled lightweight division saga. Cerrone has plans to change the narrative in the division by making his intentions clear of wanting a title shot in the foreseeable future. He currently has a three-fight win streak which does place momentum on his side. I do have to question Cerrone however because throughout his career he has come up short against top-ranked opponents. He's lost to almost every top contender he's faced including the likes of Nate Diaz, Darren Till, Robbie Lawler, and Anthony Pettis. Ferguson, on the other hand, has a better streak of winning 11 fights in a row including his latest victory against Pettis back on October 6 of 2018 at UFC 229. Yet it's unclear of how severe the problems Ferguson faced with his family will affect his return to fighting.
However, one thing I'd like to point out is that we should still not count out Conor McGregor. On March 25, McGregor did announce he was retiring from the sport but I already predicted that he would return soon enough with UFC President Dana White confirming that to CNN on April 12. Indeed he did lose to Nurmagomedov already but arguably could still be worthy of a rematch unless White thinks it could potentially stain the company's look even more considering the antics following their match at UFC 229. After all, it was the highest-selling MMA fight of all-time with roughly 2.4 million views on pay-per-view.
If it all plays out the way most fans want it to be, then we could finally get the highly anticipated match-up between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. White has worked tirelessly tried to make this happen but has failed to do so on four separate occasions. The two fighters were originally paired to face each other in the finale of the Ultimate Fighter 22 back in December of 2015. Nurmagomedov suffered a rib injury and pulled out of the contest. Then five months later, a match was made for UFC in Tampa, Florida on April 16 but never materialized as Ferguson felt ill leading up to the fight resulting in doctors finding fluids within his lungs that canceled everything altogether.
In March of 2017, UFC 209 featured a co-headliner between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, but due to Khabib being hospitalized after the weight cut process made it a third time in a row the two were unable to exchange gloves. White's final attempt came last year in 2018 at UFC 223 where then interim lightweight champion Ferguson was supposed to fight Nurmagomedov but ironically was canceled again on April 1st with Ferguson requiring knee surgery just six days before the match on April 7. White responded, "Hell no" to ESPN.com if he would try an unprecedented fifth time for the two lightweights to fight in the octagon. Perhaps White will have no choice and reconsider trying one more time if Ferguson defeats Cerrone.
I'm unsure of how any of this is going to pan out, but we're going to have to wait and find out what happens at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on June 8.