We’ve seen our share of odd couples in the MMA world but Callum Walsh and Tony Ferguson might have just eclipsed Khamzat Chimaev and Darren Till.
In the neighborhood of a year ago, Walsh began training with one of the most notable names in the history of the lightweight division. It might not seem like it’s in Ferguson’s character to befriend an Irish fighter, but the truth is it’s almost impossible to be in the gym with Ferguson and not grow to respect and admire the former interim champ.
“He’s very good in the gym,” Walsh said. “When we were training together, he was sort of going around trying to help everyone and get them all involved and push everyone. He’s good at pushing people; when you’re in the gym he’s pushing everyone to train hard.”
“His mentality, his cardio, his engine… just training once with @TonyFergusonXT has been crazy. He’s taught me so much about how to keep going and mental toughness.”— UFC News (@UFCNews) May 8, 2022
We know who @KingCallumWalsh 🇮🇪 is pulling for at his first @UFC event.🕶🏆
[#UFC274 | https://t.co/JQseK8zP6z]
What you see is what you get, to some degree. The Ferguson you get in the gym isn’t much different from the version Callum sees in press conferences and interviews, but without the intensity in everyday life, it would be hard to produce the same intensity in the Octagon.
The same intensity that would scare away most people is actually what bonded Walsh and Ferguson. There aren’t many 21-year-old boxers out there willing to match “El Cucuy” stride for stride, but Walsh has been up for the challenge since he was six years old.
“In the workout, I think Tony noticed how hard I work in the gym,” Walsh said. “Then we started training together and he could see that I’m younger, but I could keep up with him because I’m always trying to be the hardest working guy in the gym. Every time I’m in there I’m trying to work harder than everybody else, so when I saw Tony I was trying to outwork Tony”
The two have surely pushed each other to greater and greater lengths every day in the gym, and Walsh sees Ferguson as family but what if the fight “El Cucuy” has been calling for, for years now, is offered?
Does Walsh choose sides or go in the direction of staying neutral?
“I’d say if they were to ever fight there’s no way I could pick a side,” Walsh said of a Ferguson-Conor McGregor bout. “I love Tony, he’s like my brother, but I couldn’t go against another Irishman. There’s no way I could turn my back on the Irish, so if there were ever a fight, I’d be stuck in the middle. It’d be an awkward one.”
Until that day comes, it’s nothing but fist bumps and an unhuman level cardio between the two.
Catch Callum Walsh as he makes his return to UFC FIGHT PASS at Hollywood Fight Night: Walsh vs Garcia!