Beneil Dariush was surprised as anyone that Tony Ferguson didn’t succumb to the heel hook he applied in the second round of their co-headlining about at UFC 262.
“How do you not tap to that heel hook? His knee popped, and it popped loud,” Dariush said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I saw his face change for a second, and then he went back to normal, and he started kicking me in the body. That upkick he hit me with? That was pretty good.”
While Ferguson did grimace briefly, he continued to fight until the final horn of the third round. His movement did appear to be compromised in the final five minutes, which hindered his ability to produce any type of rally after falling behind on the scorecards.
“I hope nothing happened to his knee because that’s where your ACL goes,” Dariush said. “When you go for a heel hook, and it pops like that, your ACL can be gone. I know he’s a super human, and we’ve heard it over and over again, but I don’t want that on anybody. I hope he’s fine.”
Injury or not, the night belonged to Dariush. The Kings MMA product grounded Ferguson repeatedly and outgrappled his opponent from top position in a dominant performance to earn his seventh consecutive victory within the Las Vegas-based promotion. It wasn’t the action-packed fight that many expected, but Dariush is making no apologies for a convincing win.
“At first, I had prepared for the standup, and I was going to show the world that it doesn’t matter who it is in terms of the standup, but I also want to be a champion, and to be a champion, you have to be able to stick to a game plan,” Dariush said. “It’s not always [about] being a bonus fighter. I really felt like after the first round, I felt his arms tire. So why am I going to strike with this guy if I have such an advantage here?”
It wasn’t a crowd-pleasing effort from Dariush, but it was clear from the walkout that Ferguson was going to be the fan favorite for those in attendance at the Toyota Center in Houston. Although “El Cucuy” has lost three straight outings, Dariush hopes the former interim champion maintains that strong fan base through good times and bad.
“Tony deserves all of it. Look at Tony’s career. One of the best lightweights ever, he deserves every bit of that, he deserves that chant, that love,” Dariush said. “I just hope the same fans that screamed Tony so loud, you better not be fickle, you better be a Tony fan to the day he is gone. I better see that from them. I better never hear when Tony walks out a boo. For the rest of Tony’s career, I better only hear cheers, because if not, you’re fickle and you don’t deserve to be a Tony fan.”