Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo were charged on Saturday night with having to try and make UFC 177 a success in the wake of having two bouts cancelled on the day of weigh-ins and the main event having its championship rematch derailed.
Ferguson is an Ultimate Fighter winner, while Castillo is a veteran fighting under he Zuffa banner since the days of World Extreme Cagefighting. Both men have the same target, however, the UFC lightweight gold currently wrapped around Anthony Pettis’ waist.
From the opening bell, Ferguson looked to be the one that had championship aspirations floating through the back of his mind.
He immediately set the pace of the fight, taking control from the center of the Octagon. Ferguson utilized his reach advantage and further extended it by launching numerous leg kicks, setting up some solid punch combinations. Castillo, meanwhile, struggled to find a way to breach Ferguson’s offense.
Ferguson nearly put an end to the fight in the opening round, dragging Castillo to the mat in a D’arce choke, but the Sacramento-based fighter eventually escaped.
“I tried to finish it, he defended (the choke) really well,” said Ferguson after the fight.
The second frame was likely where this fight was won or lost, depending upon whom you scored it for.
Castillo finally score some of the takedowns he was after, although he did little with the position once he got the takedowns, while Ferguson was active off his back, trying to land elbows and punches.
The final round was where Castillo was his most effective. He turned up the aggression from the start of the round, and landed some much more meaningful takedowns. Ferguson kept attacking as well, but Castillo maintained control well in the final frame, and secured an arm triangle choke in the waning moments, although he couldn’t finish with it.
Ferguson walked away the winner with a 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 split decision in his favor.
“Danny, we never leave it to the judges. No animosity, no (expletive). Wehter I won or lost, I would have shaken your hand anyway,” said Ferguson, obviously believing he had won, but respecting his opponent’s attempts.
“I’m happy with the win here, with the decision.”
Castillo, however, wasn’t nearly as amicable about it, also believing that he had done enough to earn the nod.
“He landed a bunch of leg kicks, but I touched him up with my boxing. He didn’t do anything on the ground,” said the hometown fighter.
“I controlled him man. If you can’t get up off your back, you’re losing. I controlled a grown man on his back; he couldn’t do anything.”
The victory moves Ferguson’s record to 16-3 and puts him on a three-fight winning streak, while Castillo once again has his title aspirations derailed and drops to 17-7.
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