As UFC 296 approaches, the matchup between Tony Ferguson and Paddy Pimblett has stirred a mix of opinions. Notably, Alan Jouban initially perceived it as a case of the UFC pitting an aging lion against a rising star hungry for stardom.
Upon closer examination, Jouban shifted his stance, recognizing a strategic element in the UFC’s matchmaking. He asserted that Paddy Pimblett, with his significant fan base and name recognition, stands as the most beatable yet high-profile opponent for Tony Ferguson.
“This is the best fight that Tony Ferguson could have gotten,” Jouban explained on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “Because you know why? Who is the most beatable guy with the biggest draw in the UFC? It’s Paddy Pimblett. Paddy Pimblett has the biggest fan base, the biggest name, the biggest following in that group of category of guys that’s beatable. He’s very beatable. I thought he lost that fight earlier in the year [to Jared Gordon].
“When I got the news, I thought they’re throwing a legend to the dogs, because Tony is a legend in his own way for what he’s done. But when I thought about it, I go, what else? You give him a Jalin Turner or some young bull, some guy in his prime — you give the old lion that? But this is a guy in Paddy Pimblett who’s beatable. He’s young and he’s growing and he’s got good submission skills on the ground, he kind of just muscles it out and toughs it out on the feet, and Tony Ferguson is well beyond his prime years, but this is a winnable fight and it’s got the maximum upside for Tony Ferguson.”
UFC Analayst Alan Jouban on Paddy Pimblett vs. Tony Ferguson at UFC 296
Examining recent records, the narrative is clear: Ferguson, a legend in the sport, faces the challenge of six consecutive losses, while Pimblett boasts an unblemished UFC record. Jouban acknowledged the precarious phase in Ferguson’s career but sees potential in the matchup.
Paddy Pimblett’s star power commands attention, yet Jouban notes the relative lack of experience against top-15 ranked competition. The controversial decision victory over Jared Gordon and Pimblett’s subsequent hiatus due to injury add layers to the narrative, setting the stage for an intriguing clash.
Jouban explores the love-hate dynamic surrounding Paddy Pimblett, emphasizing the potential for Tony Ferguson to become a hero for those rooting against the rising star. A victory, in Jouban’s view, could silence doubters and reshape the conversation around Ferguson’s place in the sport.
“If Tony Ferguson beats Paddy Pimblett, all of a sudden Tony Ferguson is that guy,” Jouban said. “Tony Ferguson, all of the doubters, all of the naysayers that have been on him, all of sudden he’s everybody’s hero who is against Paddy Pimblett. Because that’s what it is.
“When you’re a star, you’ve got an equal amount of haters as you do fans, and Paddy Pimblett has a huge amount of both. A lot of people don’t like Paddy Pimblett. So Tony Ferguson now becomes the hero to all these people wanting desperately for Paddy Pimblett to lose.”
Looking at Both Outcomes
Contemplating potential outcomes, Jouban weighs the impact of another loss on Ferguson’s storied career. While a seventh consecutive defeat might reinforce existing narratives, a win could be the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround, reshaping the conversation around Ferguson’s legacy.
“If Tony Ferguson loses, at this point, I’m kind of like, so what?” Jouban said. “He’s already lost six in a row. He’s already been finished four times. We know he’s not in his prime. They built the younger guy off the older veteran. That’s the story of fighting. We see it done all the time. So it doesn’t really affect me all that much.
“I think this is a tremendous fight for Tony. It could honestly go either way, but a loss, it’s another loss for Tony. We have the same conversation we’ve had for the last three fights in a row. Maybe it’s time to hang them up. But a win? Come on, Tony Ferguson’s going to be on top.”
Considering the fragility of Ferguson’s career, Jouban reflects on the significance of a potential victory. He envisions a scenario where a win over Paddy Pimblett allows Ferguson to retire on his terms, leaving a lasting positive memory for both himself and his fans.
In an ideal scenario, Jouban envisions a victorious Ferguson laying his gloves in the center of the octagon, allowing the veteran to exit the sport with the adoration of fans and a sense of closure. The potential for a storybook ending adds an emotional layer to the high-stakes UFC 296 matchup.
What do you make of the take from Alan Jouban? Let us know in the comments!