While No. 1-ranked Lightweight contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his Featherweight counterpart, interim 145-pound champion, Jose Aldo, publicly take Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to task for its recent handling of both divisions, Tony Ferguson shakes his head from the shadows, a mix of disgust, humor and quiet -- albeit terrifying -- confidence.
"El Cucuy" is on an eight-fight win streak, six of which he has finished within the distance to earn five "Performance of the Night" bonuses, dating back to 2013. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 winner was supposed to fight Nurmagomedov in Dec. 2015 in a 155-pound No. 1 contender eliminator match, but the Dagestani
ducked him was forced to withdraw because of (another) injury.
Perhaps it would not have mattered anyway, considering that 145-pound champion, Conor McGregor, ditched the entire Lightweight line and will next fight division kingpin Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, which takes place inside Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2016. Regardless, Ferguson gives zero fucks, preferring instead to let his fists do the talking as he lets the rest of the "pansies" sort themselves out.
"Honestly, all those whiney bitches can fight over the belt," Ferguson told Submission Radio. "When I get to that spot, they better seriously recycle that belt because so many damn filthy hands have been on it. Seriously, I'm the only one that's been earning the shit in this division. You can talk your way to the division (McGregor) and you can sit out for the longest time and try to wait for a title shot (Nurmagomedov) -- I've been earning my way up the whole entire time, taking great fights, taking moderate fights, but no matter what, coming out with finishes.
"No matter what, I'm a very entertaining fighter," he said. "I might not talk or be as savvy on that side, but that's because I choose not to because I don't like that spot... So for me, when I heard the news, I don't give a shit personally because either way, that's more fun for me because that's more asses to whoop and for more fans to watch. So welcome to the family, if you really want to be in the shark tank, because I'm the only hammerhead in this fucking division, man. I'm tired of it. All these other little dudes, they're a bunch of pansies. They need to stop dressing up in suits and worrying about the labels and money and stuff like that and realize what really fighting's about -- that's pride and doing your best and not worrying about the other bullshit. I'm tired of it, man."
Well, that's certainly a refreshing take. Imagine, a long-time contender -- one who UFC groomed on its own mixed martial arts (MMA) "reality" television series -- taking fights, kicking ass, making no demands and waiting for his opportunity. An opportunity that he almost kissed goodbye when he ran into the surprisingly game Octagon newcomer Lando Vannata on short notice at UFC Fight Night 91 earlier this year. It was a high-risk, zero-reward match, but Ferguson took it anyway, surviving an early blitz to submit the Jackson-Wink MMA-trained fighter in the second round.
"This is a marathon, not a sprint," Ferguson said. "A lot of those dudes are shooting to the top, but it's almost like fighting with a damn genie, dude. You almost kind of cheat your way up there. And then when you win there, then you kind of realize, 'Oh shit, it's not the same kind of win.' It's kind of funny.... I'm taking my time, dude. And I told you, when I get to that title shot, I'm gonna be the first one to hold on to it like three or four times. That shit ain't going nowhere and I'll retire and leaves my gloves in the middle of that ring.
"You guys want to fight for that belt and do all that stuff, and that's cool. I'm not hating, man," he continued. "That's cool, that's them. But, for me, you guys are going to get an amazing show. I'm preparing and I went down into the rabbit hole, bro, the warp zone, and I'm in like the hyperbaric time chamber right now -- weight vest, weight ankles, running around, doing six miles, pulling tires, doing shit that's crazy, dude. And I don't think twice about it, and waking up the next day and doing it again."
That's a great attitude, considering that even with a win over former champion Rafael dos Anjos, who Ferguson will battle at TUF: "Latin America 3" Finale at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico, on Nov. 5, 2016, he still might have to wait for a title shot. That's because Nurmagomedov finagled a fight with Michael Johnson -- who holds a decision win over Ferguson way back when -- at UFC 205. And a win for either man would seemingly have Ferguson still on the outside looking in.
Ferguson does not seemed concerned in the slightest, though. He is content doing his thing and watching from his ninja-like sidelines.
"Honestly, I hope [McGregor and Alvarez] knock each other out to be perfectly honest," he said. "It'd be kind of cool, we haven't seen a double KO in a while. I just hope it's a good fight. (There's) a lot of shit talk, a lot of hype and stuff. I just hope it's more than one round. Give the crowd a fight. Give them something that everybody wants to see, which is a good bloody war."
Cue Shonie Carter!