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Tony Ferguson Will Always Show Up To Fight

Former Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson Is Keen To Snap His Losing Skid At UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington

When the internet found out that former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson was preparing for his UFC 296 bout against Paddy Pimblett with retired Navy SEAL David Goggins, it surprised many, but it shouldn’t, because it makes all the sense in the world, especially to Ferguson.

“I never knew Coach Goggins until I showed up at his doorstep and he treated me just exactly what I needed to be treated like, a soldier,” he said. “He brought me back out of what I needed to get out of, which was my own head, took me, crushed me and did everything he possibly could to break me.” 

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The clips shown on social media spoke volumes, Goggins leading the charge as Ferguson struggled to keep up, but did so anyway as they engaged in a “hell week” not many would get through. 

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“The s**t was f**king difficult,” said Ferguson. “I don't think anybody else could go through what I did. Matter of fact, I'm the only f**king one that has out of the Olympians, the ultra-endurance athletes and all these other professionals from every single sport. I kept showing up, saying, ‘Yes, sir. Yes, coach.’ Showing up is the hardest thing you can do.”

Tony Ferguson Athlete Profile

Throughout a UFC career that began in 2011, Ferguson has always shown up. That’s never been a knock on him. Win, lose or draw, “El Cucuy” could be counted on to show up in shape, on weight and ready to fight. And for most of the last dozen years, that was enough for him to get his hand raised and become one of the best lightweights of this era.

Bonus Résumé | Tony Ferguson
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Bonus Résumé | Tony Ferguson
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But for the last three-plus years, Ferguson has fallen on hard times in the Octagon, losing six straight heading into this Saturday’s meeting with Pimblett. Yes, Ferguson is less than two months shy of his 40th birthday, and yes, those six losses came at the hands of a Murderers Row of 155-pounders. But the man himself doesn’t accept those excuses, and he is determined to prove that he’s got something left in the tank.

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“I'm going to show the world exactly what you need to see, which is that I'm not f**king washed up,” Ferguson said. “I might be cleaned up, might be having more fun, and I'm learning how to smile more with my training and learning how to smile more in my fights. I have to thank my wife for that one. She was the one that sent me a text and said, ‘You know what? You're not having any more fun in your training. It looks like you're not having more fun in your fights.’ And she never said, ‘Do you want to do this anymore?’ But what she said was enough to get started. And I started trusting in my team and asking people for help. And I got the help I needed. So I'm ready for UFC 296.” 

He looks like he is physically, and everything that comes out of his mouth these days is about not just winning, but making a statement against the British rising star, who is 4-0 since making his UFC debut in 2021. And despite that impressive start, Pimblett has never faced anyone with the resume of Ferguson, who’s last six fights were against Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler, Nate Diaz and Bobby Green. And though Ferguson lost those bouts, he has no intention of letting Pimblett join that list.

ony Ferguson punches Bobby Green in a lightweight fight during the UFC 291 event at Delta Center on July 29, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
ony Ferguson punches Bobby Green in a lightweight fight during the UFC 291 event at Delta Center on July 29, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I'm going to derail his hype train by making his nose a ketchup sandwich,” said Ferguson. “I'm going to hit him so hard he's going to taste nickels. Paddy's never faced a guy like me. That dude would have better luck running through hell with his underwear soaked in gasoline than f**k with a guy like me.”

 Strong words, and nothing we haven’t heard from Ferguson before, but there is an intensity and an edge to those comments these days. He knows the talk that takes place after a fighter goes on a losing streak and is approaching 40 years old, and, as a competitor, he finds it insulting. 

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“I’m not here to play games anymore,” he said. “I'm tired of losing, I'm tired of hearing all the bulls**t talk. It's time. I stopped sandbagging this, so the real “El Cucuy” is showing up.”

If he does, it may blow up MMA Twitter on Saturday night. But that’s not Ferguson’s concern right now. He’s got a job to do first.

“Paddy is all hype in this fight, and it doesn't matter what the hell he is going to say, what his fans are going to say, how they're going to cheer, how they’re going to boo,” he said. “I'm so damn focused with this fight that I can't see anything else besides getting my hand raised in victory.”

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UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 16, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass