On Wednesday evening, reports surfaced that fan favourite lightweight contenders Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson will collide at UFC 274, which is slated for May 7 in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a fight Chandler has been chasing for some time, but one Ferguson would probably have been wiser to avoid. The 35-year-old Chandler has expressed interest in a fight with his fellow American on several occasions, most notably in a February interview with ESPN. UFC: Rogan says Zhang vs Jedrzejczyk proves MMA ‘not a game’ “Tony Ferguson is an exciting opponent,” the former Bellator champion (22-7) said. “It’s a fight that excites me, it’s a fight that’s scary, it’s a fight that’s going to be great for the fans once again. “Although I have been dubbed as one of the most exciting guys in the sport as of right now, I need to go out there and get a W, get my hand raised, and I think Tony Ferguson is the perfect opponent.” Chandler’s logic is easy to follow. He is known as one of the most entertaining fighters in MMA, but after a stoppage loss to Charles Oliveira in a failed bid for the UFC lightweight title, and a decision loss to Justin Gaethje in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender, he desperately needs to beat somebody. In 2022, Ferguson is eminently beatable. The former Ultimate Fighter winner, who once amassed a jaw-dropping 12-fight win streak and briefly reigned as the interim lightweight champion, has fallen on hard times. It began with a punishing knockout loss to Justin Gaethje in May of 2020, throughout which he absorbed just shy of 150 significant strikes. The trouble then spilled into his next two fights, as he was wrestled to decision losses by Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush in December 2020 and May 2021, respectively. In the span of a year, we learned that Ferguson can be out-struck and out-grappled. Chandler seemingly has the skills to do both, and can also take comfort in the fact that his opponent has never had much in the way of firepower. It is difficult to criticise Chandler for pursuing this fight. Outside a lucrative clash with Conor McGregor, which he also briefly chased, it’s probably the best option available for him at the moment. But it is difficult not to worry for Ferguson. He is already 38 years old – that’s ancient in the context of MMA’s lighter weight classes – and riding three losses that, unlike Chandler’s recent setbacks, were completely one-sided. If he loses again, it is very possible he’ll be released by the UFC, particularly given that he comes with a comparatively expensive price tag. UFC 272: Covington mocks Drake for US$275,000 bet on Masvidal Yet the most worrying thing about the match-up is that Chandler seems capable of putting Ferguson through a significant amount of physical punishment. The former Bellator champion boasts concussive power in his hands and legs – as evidenced by the 10 knockout wins on his record – and is known for his unwavering aggression in the cage. At 38 years old, and with three tough losses and a career full of brutal wars behind him, it’s exactly the kind of match up Ferguson should be avoiding. Of course, that just makes a victory all the more valuable.