Ferguson discusses TUF fame, evolution and facing Yves Edwards
Tony Ferguson is evolving.
Just six months have passed since Ferguson defeated Ramsey Nijem at “The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale,” but the winner of last season has grown a lot in a short period of time. The victory extended his winning streak at the time to four straight and earned him a lot of hype coming off the reality show.
But Ferguson still needed to be tested, and against Aaron Riley at UFC 135 in Denver, Colorado, he made it clear that he was fit for the UFC’s lightweight division with a technical knockout win due to doctor’s stoppage.
Yet even after such a dominant victory, Ferguson had concerns about his performance. Now that he is facing Yves Edwards at “The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale” this Saturday night, he believes that he has addressed those concerns during training camp, though that doesn’t necessarily ease his nerves prior to fight night.
“There were a lot of things going on (at UFC 135),” Ferguson said. “I was nervous. 18,000 people can’t go wrong, right? Now I’m like, ‘Cool, I’m at 155. I’ve had a lot of time. I learned how to harness (my power). I ran a lot more for this camp. I’m a lot faster. My head movement is better.’ I’m just really anxious to see what I have to do. My body feels so tight and wound up, I feel like I can rip my skin off. It sucks, but that’s the feeling that I have. I’m hungry right now.”
While his victory over Riley was a statement that he belongs in the best promotion in the history of the sport, Ferguson must now face an even greater challenge in the longtime veteran Edwards.
Entering his 60th fight as a professional, Edwards boasts an incredible resume, featuring 41 wins, including the 32 stoppage victories he has had during his career. And coming off a technical knockout victory over Rafaello Oliveira, the 35-year-old is looking to put down another prospect.
Ferguson will be the first to admit that Edwards will certainly be his toughest test to date. And he will even admit that the crafty veteran will probably be better than him in several areas this weekend.
“There are a lot of advantages that he might have,” Ferguson said. “He’s got a lot of experience. Having a lot of experience like that, coming into a battle, it might make me nervous, it might not, but he has it. When I first found out I was going to fight Yves Edwards, I was like, ‘Well here’s a vet, he’s been around for a long time, he’s well respected.’ It’s an honor to fight this guy. They never give me tomato cans, so I had to train hard for this guy.
“He’s got a lot of kicks and tricks. I’m thinking in this fight he’s going to pull off a lot of things I haven’t seen in a while, but that’s the one thing that I do best; what I do is I take everything that I learn in there and use it against them.”
Since winning the title of “The Ultimate Fighter” only six months ago, he claims to have experienced tremendous growth in the sport. And while he credits the majority of that to his team and coaches, he appreciates the time he spent in the “TUF house,” which he likened to a prison, and recognizes what he gained from the experience.
Now that his “Ultimate Fighter” days are in the rear-view mirror, he only hopes that the show will continue to have the success it has in the past, and Ferguson is calling on fans to make that happen. And to go crazy during his fight this weekend.
“Have fun,” Ferguson said. “I want you guys to yell through that TV so loud that I can hear it. My ears are big enough. Try it. One thing is, I want you guys to keep watching the show and keep watching what us “Ultimate Fighters” go through. You know, these guys, these “TUF 14” guys, they’re tough, man. They’re hungry and they want this stuff, the exact same way that I did.”