Tony Ferguson In Profile
By Ben Jessop
Tony Ferguson is one of the most feared fighters in the UFC, not just in the lightweight roster but the entire organisation. His fierce love for violence, coupled with his extraordinary cardio and immaculate technique makes him arguably the most dangerous man for anyone in the lightweight division to go up against.
Ferguson was next up against the unmovable man that is Khabib Nurmagomedov but the fight fell through for the third time due to Khabib being stuck in Russia and being able unable to fly due to covid-19. Justin Gaethje stepped up to the plate, and now faces Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
Ferguson has been a staple fan favourite for years, with exhilarating fights and an eccentric personality, his unpredictability is unmatched and fight fans love it but Ferguson wasn’t always a violence loving, cage fighting cardio machine.
Born February 12th 1984 in Oxnard, California but growing up mainly in Muskegon, Michigan Ferguson was an athletic teen focusing on three sports; American football, baseball and wrestling.
Finding some success in all three, Ferguson was the starting defensive back for the 2000 Division 8 state football champions but his real success came with the wrestling. He was a three-time all-state selection in wrestling, winning the 152lb division in 2002.
Moving on from high school, Ferguson moved around colleges throughout the years but never completed his degree but he was still following his passion for wrestling and the success continued to come though as he won the 2006 National Collegiate Wrestling Associations nationwide wrestling championship in the 165lb division.
As his college years passed, Ferguson decided to move back to California to be closer to his family. His life began to take the same route that millions of peoples lived take as he settled for a job in marketing and sales, and picked up night shift bar work to supplement his salary but little did Ferguson know, one chat with a customer in a bar overnight changed the course of his life forever.
In one of those all too common bar exchanges, the customer and Ferguson began to discuss their personal histories, perhaps sharing more than needed but none-the-less the two were engaged in a deep conversation.
Ferguson soon began discussing his wrestling career, and the success he had chasing it. But now, working in marketing the dreams of a full blown wrestling career seemed a million miles away.
The customer ran a small mixed martial arts class and asked Ferguson along to show some of the youngsters some wrestling technique, and after the first few classes, Ferguson knew he would pursue his career in mixed martial arts.
Escaping the rat run and dedicating all of his time to training in the gym, El Cucuy was born. The years to come wrote themselves as Ferguson pushed all the way to winning the interim lightweight UFC championship belt and now the #1 contender in the lightweight division.
But make no mistake, this was not a quick or easy journey. Hours in the gym, turned into weeks, into months and then into years, honing and crafting his skill to make him one of the most dangerous men in the world.
2008 came and Ferguson began his professional MMA career, fighting for smaller organisations such as CXF, TFA, LBFN, NFAMMA, RF, CA Fight Syndicate, Pure Combat and then onwards onto the UFC. With 10 wins and 2 losses before he reached the UFC and with only 3 going to a decision, Ferguson’s viciousness and ability to finish an opponent was too obvious to anyone to miss.
He began his UFC career after winning The Ultimate Fighter at the beginning of 2011. Thrust onto the roster in June of 2011 he faced off against Ramsey Nijem, finishing the fight within the first round via KO. He then stood across from Aaron Riley in September of 2011 and finished that fight in the first round due to a TKO and with a final with via unanimous decision in December of 2011 against Yves Edwards everyone in the UFC was well and truly aware of the arrival of El Cucuy.
2012 bought less luck to Ferguson, looking to finish off Michael Johnson in May of 2012 didn’t go to plan and Johnson won via unanimous decision. We didn’t see a return to the octagon from Ferguson until October 2013 but no one can dispute the fact Ferguson came back better than ever and he’s not lost a single fight since.
Facing off against Mike Rio, Katsunori Kikuno, Danny Castillo, Abel Trujilo, Gleison Tibau, Josh Thomson, Edson Barboza, Lando Vannata, Rafael Dos Anjos was enough for him to fight against Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight belt. Newly armed with his black belt from 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu it was no surprise that Ferguson yet again came out on top.
With belt was wrapped around his waist, it was hard not to feel as though it was tarnished by only being the interim belt. So, Ferguson continued to push forward facing Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone.
He was on the edge of fighting for the undisputed lightweight title at UFC 249 but yet again, for the fourth time, life pulled an unfortunate trick on Ferguson leaving him unable to battle Khabib Nurmagomedov for what many believe he rightfully deserves.
Many expect Ferguson to be victorious against Justin Gaethje at UFC 249, and I truly believe the UFC will force a bout between Khabib and Tony in the near future.