Tony Ferguson now gets newcomer Landon Vannata at UFC Fight Night 91; McDonald vs. Lineker moved to main event slot

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Tony Ferguson (photo credit Joe Camporeale © USA Today Sports)

Tony Ferguson has a new opponent for next month’s UFC Fight Night 91 event following the injury removal of Michael Chiesa, but it’s knocked him out of the main event slot.

The UFC announced on Tuesday that Ferguson will face undefeated newcomer Landon Vannata on short notice, but it will now be in the co-main event as they’ve bumped the bantamweight matchup between Michael McDonald and John Lineker into the headlining position.

Vannata is an 8-0 featherweight fighting out of the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in Albuequerque, New Mexico, and he’ll move up in weight to take on one of the best lightweights in the world for his debut. The 24-year-old was slated to fight for RFA’s Featherweight Championship in Minnesota in March, but that fight was scrapped when he missed weight and they couldn’t come to terms on a non-title catchweight. He then got back into action in April to score his eighth win, and seventh by stoppage.

He’s got perhaps the toughest task any newcomer has had in years, as Ferguson is riding a seven fight winning streak and is one of the top ten fighters in the world at 155 lbs.

UFC Fight Night 91 airs live on Fox Sports 1 from the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the UFC’s first ever trip to the state.

Penick’s Analysis: Rafael dos Anjos’ criticisms on Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last opponent are going to hold less weight with Ferguson facing off against a short notice featherweight opponent next. It’s a massive step down from Chiesa even if Vannata’s a talented young prospect. It’s also just a ridiculous first fight for Vannata. It’s on level or worse than Max Holloway facing Dustin Poirier in his first UFC bout, and though he’s unlikely to be successful in this fight, he’s taken an opportunity to start off in the UFC proper after this short notice bout. As for the new main event, it’s a fantastic fight, and the right bout to put on top with this change for Ferguson.

[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]

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