Gregor Gillespie will be the first to admit that releasing a video tirade aimed at Tony Ferguson was a bit out of character.
The usually reserved UFC lightweight typically prefers to talk about his next fishing trip rather than call out opponents. But he finally erupted last week after getting a message from his manager that Ferguson was once again passing on a proposed fight against him.
“I got a text from my manager and it was saying, ‘Tony Ferguson,’ and then in all caps, ‘WILL NOT FIGHT YOU,’” Gillespie told MMA Fighting.
“I was super frustrated he had been having a Twitter and Instagram back-and-forth with Michael Chandler, and then I got that message from my manager.”
Gillespie made it clear that his anger extended much further back then just this latest proposal from the UFC regarding a potential matchup against Ferguson.
According to the former NCAA wrestling champion, he was first contacted about facing Ferguson this past summer when the UFC was targeting a November date for the fight.
“I got offered the Tony Ferguson fight, maybe sometime in July,” Gillespie said. “I think it was four months before the [Madison Square Garden] card in November [at UFC 268]. They offered it to me and I accepted the next day, I think.
“I didn’t really hear back, and then I asked my manager and he said, ‘I’ll touch base with them again.’ I think, not verbatim, but the words were, ‘He’s not super interested.’ Like, what the f*ck does that mean? Like, make him interested.”
Obviously the fight never came together for the proposed date at UFC 268, which already set Gillespie off considering how the timing matched up with his last win over Diego Ferreira and Ferguson’s previous appearance in a loss to Beneil Dariush.
“I’m pretty radio silent when it comes to stuff like this,” Gillespie said. “I’m not someone who’s going to come out and make videos like I did the other day without being super frustrated and super, kind of, fired up and emotional about it, which I was, as you could see in the video.
“I fought in May. May 8. Ferguson fought May 15. He fought the same night that I think [Charles] Oliveira and [Michael] Chandler fought. It was literally the weekend after, and we’ve both been just hanging out since then.”
Gillespie also can’t help but find it strange that Ferguson has been attempting to call his shot with certain opponents after dropping lopsided decisions in his last two fights.
Ferguson fell to future lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, then suffered the same fate in his fight with Beneil Dariush, and he hasn’t return to action since. While Gillespie understands he may be a higher risk with lower reward type of fight right now, he doesn’t see how Ferguson has a whole lot of bargaining power given his last two performances.
“He’s coming off a couple losses. He probably looks at me like a tough fight on a guy that’s ranked below him, and I’m telling you, I don’t want to fight a guy ranked below me,” Gillespie said. “So I get it. But on the other side of the coin, you just said the truth. You don’t have many chips to bargain with right now, Tony.
“On top of that, what are we both going to do? The only two guys that are available to fight that are both in the top 10 are just going to sit there while the rest of the division just cycles through again? I just don’t get it. It’s super frustrating.”
Gillespie is quick to admit that at this stage in his career, he’s mostly focused on forward momentum, and that means facing opponents ahead of him in the rankings who would hopefully afford him a title shot in the future.
A veteran like Ferguson certainly fits that bill, which is why Gillespie has been so fixated on that particular fight, while also acknowledging that there really aren’t any other options available to him based on other matchups already booked by the UFC.
Gillespie is ultimately hoping that Ferguson will finally accept the offer for a fight against him so they can both enter into training camps and put the focus back on competition, rather than a war of words through social media and interviews.
“I don’t want to sound like a picky fight snob accepting fights, but I’m 35 years old,” Gillespie explained. “I’ve got a little bit of time left to make a run at that belt, and I’m not fighting guys that aren’t propelling me towards that ultimate goal of getting that shot and winning the belt hopefully.
“It’s just astounding that he was offered the fight [and turned it down]. I’m a top-10 guy. It’s not like I’m some guy, some random guy. I’m 14-1 with 12 finishes. My last performance, I beat Ferreira, who after Dariush beat him, he gets a shot with Ferguson and now he’s fighting what you would assume to be a title eliminator against Islam [Makhachev]. And here I am just hanging out, knowing that he has been offered the fight with me. I’ve accepted. I’ve called him out, which I don’t do, on more than one occasion, and then I see him f*cking doing Twitter and Instagram posts calling Michael Chandler out. I’m like, dude, are you kidding me?”