UFC's Ferguson switches management company

Tony Ferguson is starting a new chapter.

The former UFC interim lightweight champion has left Paradigm Sports Management to sign with Ballengee Group to manage his MMA career, Audie Attar, Paradigm CEO and president, told ESPN.

"Tony Ferguson is a talented athlete, and we hope his future brings him personal happiness both in and out of the Octagon," Attar said in a statement provided to ESPN.

Ferguson had been represented by Paradigm for seven years. Representatives for Ballangee, who manage the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Vitor Belfort, Aljamain Sterling, among others, declined comment at this time when contacted by ESPN.

Ferguson has won 11 fights in a row, however, he doesn't appear to be in the lightweight title picture. He was stripped of the interim title in April 2018 when he was forced to withdraw from UFC 223 a week before his fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov after he tore the LCL in his knee when he tripped on a chord in a television studio while promoting the fight. The injury forced him to have surgery.

Ferguson returned to action in October and defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 229, however, he is not currently in line for a title shot since Dustin Poirier just won the interim lightweight title earlier this month against Max Holloway, and the UFC wants him to unify the title against official champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in September.

Ferguson has had a contentious relationship with former lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who is also represented by Paradigm and is the biggest client on their roster. Ferguson parting ways with Paradigm could finally lead to a fight between the two, which will most certainly draw a lot of interest.

The UFC has tried to book Ferguson against Max Holloway, and others, this year, however, the fights have not materialized due to personal issues he has been dealing with. Last month, Ferguson's wife, Cristina, filed a temporary restraining order against him for her and their 2-year-old son in Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court. A hearing had been scheduled for April 5, however, according to Cristina Ferguson's lawyer the temporary restraining order expired and the hearing never happened. Ferguson was never arrested or charged with a crime. After the news broke, Ferguson thanked his fans for their support and wrote that the "UFC & Management are helping me find the help we need." He recently tweeted photos of him attending a Los Angeles Dodgers game with his son.

UFC president Dana White told reporters following UFC 236 in Atlanta earlier this month that he wants Ferguson to get cleared by UFC doctors before he gets booked in a fight, but Ferguson recently tweeted that he didn't need additional clearance.

Ferguson, 35, won the 13th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2011. His UFC record is 14-1 and 24-3 overall.