If you ask most fight analysts and seasoned MMA fans, there was a big difference between “prime” Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, the formidable former UFC interim lightweight champion who went on a 12-fight-winning streak between October of 2013 and June of 2019 in a division full of killers. There was even serious debate at this time that Ferguson, with his unorthodox style, impressive mat skills and inhuman pressure might actually be the perfect counter to legendary lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Ferguson has been in a slump lately however, losing his last five fights in convincing fashion, including a fight against Justin Gaethje where he took inordinate amounts of damage and a brutal second-round knockout loss to Michael Chandler. The 39-year-old Ferguson (25-8 MMA, 15-6 UFC) however, believes he’s still got plenty left in the tank as he approaches his match against Bobby Green this weekend at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City, Utah. In fact, Ferguson believes the best is still yet to come.
“I feel at this point in time in my life, I’m barely hitting my prime, which is crazy,” Ferguson said at UFC 291 media day on Wednesday. “One of my coaches, Juan, earlier we were doing mitts between interviews and I told him, ‘I’d be getting up early. I have to lay down. I know I have to lay down.’ And I got up and did my interview, and I was like, ‘Hey, is the room open? He went down there and said yeah. I said, ‘I’d be right there, bring your mitts.’ I didn’t even wrap up, and I hit the pads.
“I’m shocked. I’m really shocked. I’m just as sharp as I look, baby.”
When it comes to retirement talk, Ferguson said he’s having none of it at this time.
“Nobody else is going to tell me (to retire),” Ferguson continued. “They can propose or say, ‘Oh, Tony. Whatever. He’s going to retire.’ No, motherf*ckers. F*ck you. I’m going to be done when I want to be done. But I’m also going to have to do what I have to do to get to where I want to get. Five fights and a title, baby.”
When asked about Tony Ferguson’s retirement, Justin Gaethje, who ended Ferguson’s 12-fight-winning streak with a brutal fifth round TKO (and will face Dustin Poirier for the second time at UFC 291) and initiated Tony’s losing streak, rejects any notion that he was the catalyst for Tony’s recent woes.
“For one, I think he’s crazy enough for that not even to be a possibility,” Gaethje told reporters at UFC 291 media day. “I think we play a rough game, it’s so unforgiving. I think he won the first fight against Michael Chandler, I think he dropped him. You know, it’s just a battle of confidence, battle of believing in yourself. There’s no doubt that something like that takes that away from you, and you have to work hard to get it back. He’s a fighter through and through. I got nothing but respect for him.”
Gaethje added, “I just hope all of us have people that love us enough that are willing to have that conversation and that he’s willing to listen, or I’m willing to listen, or any fighter is willing to listen when that conversation is to be had… We’re all on a timeline. There’s a beginning and end. None of us in our mid-thirties are towards the beginning. There’s no doubt about it.”
What do you think of the fact that Tony Ferguson says he has no plans to retire after UFC 291? Do you think he still has some great fights left in him? Let us know in the comments.