“El Cucuy” was scheduled to fight Li Jingliang at UFC 279 in his first trip back up to welterweight since winning “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2011. But a day before the bout, the promotion was forced to reshuffle the fight card after main event combatant Khamzat Chimaev missed weight by nearly eight pounds for his fight welterweight fight with Nate Diaz.
Ferguson was slotted in against Diaz and was elevated to the night’s headlining act. Chimaev was moved to the co-main event and fought Kevin Holland, who he dismantled in just over two minutes.
Ferguson and his fellow “Ultimate Fighter” winner went to war in what was billed as a battle of two UFC legends. And after the contest hit the fourth round, it appeared Diaz had the momentum. Ferguson, who listened to the advice he received from his corner in between the third and fourth frames, shot in for a takedown. However, he was met by Diaz’s guillotine choke and was forced to tap out.
With the defeat, Ferguson dropped to 0-5 in his last five Octagon outings. But when he was spoke with the media at the UFC 279 post-fight press conference, the 38-year-old beloved mixed martial artist confirmed he wouldn’t retire.
“‘El Cucuy’ is a legend, I’m not going f****** nowhere, man,” Ferguson said (h/t MMA Junkie).
Ferguson said that he felt like a “different me” and had “enjoyed” the fight. And for the division class he wants to compete in, he didn’t fully commit to welterweight or lightweight.
“I hang my hat at two different places besides home – at 155 and at 70,” Ferguson said. “At 70, it’s been like, what, 10-11 years? I mean, sh*t, I was 14-2 with mostly knockouts? My body literally just got used to it. I fought in May. I lifted heavy. I was taking some weight-gainer protein, doing it right. … I enjoyed it. My fans, the supporters, family and fans first. It’s a different me out there, and it’s a different me right now.”
Ferguson Said He Should Have Kept Fight on the Feet, Error Led to Submission Loss
Ferguson said that he should have kept the fight on his feet instead of trying to put Diaz on his back.
“My corner went for the shot, but should’ve kept it standing,” El Cucuy said. “Little details to expand on and to grow from. Nate is a game fighter. I can’t say anything else. It’s not like he’s old and slow and stuff. Hopefully, the crowd that was at UFC 279 there present got some blood splattered on them or something. I had fun in there.”
El Cucuy Once Built a 12-Fight Win Streak
Ferguson was long considered one of the best active lightweights in the division. From 2013 to 2019, El Cucuy would never taste defeat. He amassed a 12-fight win streak which included wins over the likes of former UFC 155-pound champions Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis.
During the stretch, he won the interim lightweight belt by submitting Kevin Lee at UFC 216 in October 2017. Unfortunately for Ferguson, he’s never had the chance to compete for undisputed gold because of fight cancelations and injuries. His win streak was snapped by Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 in May 2020 via fifth-round TKO.
He has a professional MMA record of 25-8 with 12 wins via KO/TKO and eight by submission.