What does Tony Ferguson think of his upcoming opponent? He’s next.
“Yancy Medeiros was supposed to be next, but now Gleison Tibau is next,” Ferguson said. “I never look past my opponent, I look through them. Conor McGregor took my quote. I said that when I was getting ready for [Danny] Castillo and I said it when I was getting ready for [Abel] Trujillo. My wife wrote it on the calendar on the 28th, and it’s something I say all the time. ‘What sounds better than 7-1? 8-1!’”
If The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner sounds fired up, it’s because “El Cucuy” is always fired up. After scoring four straight KO to dominate 2011, Ferguson has made the UFC lightweight division his home by amassing a 6-1 record plus the Knockout of the Night of Ramsey Nijem at welterweight. Currently, Ferguson is on a four-fight win streak including three finishes, which has made him a must-see force inside the Octagon.
“People are there to watch me fight,” Ferguson said. “They’re not there to watch the other guy fight. They’re being brought in to get their butt kicked by me. And I know it. If I see an opening, I take it. I’m out there to win a Performance of the Night bonus.”
Most recently, the 31-year-old secured a second-round rear naked choke of Abel Trujillo at UFC 181. The Blackzilians’ bomber was coming off a Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night win over Jamie Varner earlier in the year. After a high-tempo slugfest in the first round where Trujillo did drop Ferguson, El Cucuy settled in and went to work, winning with both his offensive and defensive wrestling and striking on the ground before finishing the scrap with a submission. It was a solid win, a solid finish and, perhaps, it was a little revenge for Ferguson, whose lone UFC loss was to Trujillo’s teammate Michael Johnson.
“I wanted to make it technical,” Ferguson said. “I didn’t want to make it a pissing contest because that’s exactly what the Blackzilians wanted me to do. That’s how Michael Johnson took me out. I was just putting a lot of aggressive energy into it instead relying on my energy and my technique. The energy just got crisscrossed. This fight I was well aware of everything. I knew what he was going to throw at me and what he wanted to do. I knew my conditioning was going to be better than his. X marks the spot and I just made sure to target him and I took him out.”
The California native has shown off his skills both in the stand-up and on the ground in his recent four-fight win streak, but the ferocity and funkiness of his grappling is what has been raising eyebrows dating back to his ultra-quick Submission of the Night win at UFC 166. Besides the Trujillo win and the less than two minutes D’Arce choke on Mike Rio, Ferguson’s incredibly active bottom game and takedown defense earned him the decision nod over Danny Castillo at UFC 177. This renewed focus and confidence for Ferguson to use his background as a standout high school and college wrestler has led him to train at the famed 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.
“I’m in charge of my ground game because I have to make sure I’m always evolving,” Ferguson said. “I made the executive decision to go to 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and work with Eddie Bravo. I feel proud to call him coach. I have over 20 years of grappling experience. I have to have guys with credible knowledge, who have gone out and used it, have competed with it and know it works. The 10th Planet crew is great. I’ve always done this stuff inside the gym, but it’s about pulling the trigger inside the Octagon. If I know it works on the guys I do it to in practice then it’s going to work inside the Octagon because it’s the same situation.”
As mentioned, the next man up to tangle with Ferguson will be takedown tyrant Gleison Tibau at UFC 184. Originally, Ferguson was supposed to meet Yancy Medeiros, but an injury forced his withdrawal, and replacing him is the three-fight win streak-owning Tibau. The American Top Team veteran has accrued more wins in the UFC lightweight division than anyone else and, along with those victories, the hulking Tibau owns 82 takedowns, which is by far the most at 155 pounds and is only second to former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s 87 takedowns for the most in company history.
“Gleison Tibau is next,” Ferguson said. “He’s a lot better ranked than Yancy Medeiros. He’s got a big weight cut, he’s a southpaw, I know exactly what he does on the ground and I know what I’m going to do to him on the ground. It’s not going to go the distance. Gleison’s going to set up for the takedown automatically. He doesn’t want to stand with me. If he does stand with me, he’s going to find out really quick my range is a lot longer than his. If he’s one-dimensional then he’s going to have a helluva time with me inside the Octagon. I don’t plan on helping him break that record for takedowns.”
Getting himself ready for February 28th, Ferguson has been getting in quality training all over his new home of Orange County, California at places like Mark Munoz’s Reign Training Center. Ferguson has designs of opening up his own gym in the area and he knows another win and a Performance of the Night bonus would go a long way in helping that dream become a reality. On the other end of that equation is Tibau, and El Cucuy is preparing to make UFC 184 his nightmare.
“I’m planning on dealing all the damage to this guy, outworking him, outclassing him,” Ferguson said. “He’s going to be locked in there with the damn El Cucuy. Man, I’m worse than El Cucuy and he’s going to find out why.”