Tony Ferguson was one of the top UFC lightweight fighters at one point in time but coming into UFC 291 he found himself on a 5-fight losing streak, so he felt the need to make some changes to the coaches supporting him. It’s undoubtedly been a tough transition for Ferguson, because he was on a practically unstoppable rise to the top right from the start of his career. He put together a 10-2 professional record on the regional MMA circuit from 2008 to 2010, earning a chance to compete on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Ferguson won that tournament and a UFC contract, going on to rack up an incredible 15 wins and a single loss in the promotion over the next 9 years. A series of cruel twists of fate kept him from challenging for the lightweight title, although he did add an interim title to his record at one point. When he challenged Justin Gaethje for his second interim title at UFC 249, everything came crashing down. Ferguson was knocked out in the fifth round and then lost a pair of unanimous decisions to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush afterwards. He was then knocked out by Michael Chandler and submitted by Nate Diaz, leading to him being in 5 fights and over 4 years.
In the pre-fight press conference for UFC 291, Tony Ferguson shared how he wasn’t used to periods like this:
“I’m not used to losing. I’ll show you guys. I’ve been competing in sports since I was maybe four, five. I’ve been competing in sports for 30 plus years at the highest level. I‘m talking about state championships, and football, baseball, wrestling national championship.”
He did point out that there were some extenuating circumstances going on during this losing streak though:
“Man, you get burned out. Pandemic. It took a full pandemic for me to lose my 12 fight win streak. Not angry at it, but I had to fire some coaches. I had to fire some people. Because I was trying to get them back, and they weren’t good for me. It was toxic. It was toxic to me and I didn’t realize it. I can go and reiterate some things, but I won’t. What I’ll say is my focus is back.”
Coming into his fight with Bobby Green at UFC 291, Tony Ferguson believes he’s actually developed even further than he had in the past:
“I feel at this time in my life that I’m just barely hitting my prime, which is crazy. One of my coaches, Juan, earlier we were doing mitts between interviews and I told him, ‘I’ve been getting up early and I just have to lay down. I know I have to lay down.’ I got up and I did my interview and I was like, ‘Hey, is there a room open?’ Everyone said yeah. I said, ‘I’ll be right there and bring your mitts.’ Didn’t even wrap up. I went and I hit the pads and I’m f*cking sharp. I’m really sharp right now. I’m just as sharp as I look, baby.”
That might be surprising considering that Tony Ferguson is currently 39 years old, but he doesn’t plan on announcing his retirement after fighting Green at UFC 291. According to him, he’s got a lot left to do in the sport after this fight:
“I’m gonna be done when I want to be done. But I’m also gonna have to do what I have to do in order to get where I want to get. Five fights then a title, baby. I’m out.”
The footage of Tony Ferguson answering questions in the pre-fight press conference for UFC 291, including explaining that he had fired some of his coaches, was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of MMAMania: