A few years ago, Tony Ferguson (25-9) was looked at as arguably the best lightweight in the UFC. He had climbed to the top of the mountain and become interim championship. He was looked at as the boogey man of the division and nobody was begging to fight El Cucuy.
Entering 2020, Ferguson was on top of the world and had an undisputed title fight booked against Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was the fifth time that the two had been booked against each other, but all four of the previous fights fell through. We all know what happened next. Covid hit and Nurmagomedov couldn’t get out of Russia and the fight was cancelled.
Ferguson in return took another interim title fight, this one against Justin Gaethje. It was a grueling fight and Ferguson got finished in the championship rounds. That loss started a now six-fight losing streak for El Cucuy. Most recently, he fought Bobby Green at UFC 291 and was choked out in the third round.
UFC 296 is a must win
Ferguson appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour yesterday and talked about everything pertaining to that fight, his career, and his UFC 296 showdown with Paddy Pimblett (20-3). It was the most open I’d ever seen Tony Ferguson in talking about the nerves of competing and the pressure.
Ferguson also admitted that part of him checked out when Nurmagomedov retired. Fighting Khabib was something that really pushed El Cucuy to train to become the best. When he came to the realization that the fight would never happen, he said part of him left in that moment.
Ahead of UFC 296, Ferguson admitted that he feels the pressure. He is nervous, but he’s also confident. The nerves are driving him to train harder than he ever has before and he’s not only confident that he’ll defeat Pimblett, but he’s confident he’ll finish him. You can view Ferguson’s whole interview below.