Tony Ferguson went nearly a decade without losing and then in 2020, “El Cucuy” went 0-2, but he believes those losses were the best thing to ever happen to him.
Ferguson first fought Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title in May, which served as the first event back for the UFC from the pandemic. Unfortunately, Ferguson suffered a fifth-round TKO loss. El Cucuy then took a short notice fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 and lost a clear-cut decision in a fight he was dominated in.
Now, ahead of his fight with Beneil Dariush at UFC 262, Ferguson says losing two fights in a row where the best thing that happened to him.
“Last year, it had nothing to do with coaches or anything else,” Ferguson told Submission Radio (h/t MMAJunkie). “Seriously, I take all the fall and all my blame on it, but the two losses that I had, I’m gonna be real with you guys: It was the best learning experience I probably could’ve ever had and the best thing that was for me and my family.
“Chasing after a guy like (retired former champion) Khabib and then trying to get the fight and then not getting the fight and then having interim belts dangled in front of you, the game is what it is,” Ferguson continued. “You can’t get mad at the game. But how you play the game is exactly your approach. And that’s what I did for this year. I completely changed my approach.”
With the back-to-back setbacks, Ferguson changed up his training and his mindset. Now, he says he has the fire back in him like he did when he was competing on The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson also knows this fight against Dariush is the perfect to get back to his funky style of mixing in wrestling and striking, instead of being too one-dimensional.
“Where we’re at right now, I’m hungry as f*ck,” Ferguson said. “And I haven’t had the love for the game in a minute. I’m gonna be real: I haven’t even sparred yet, but I’m getting that f*cking hunger just being around it over at Wild Card.
“Instead of a varsity mentality, I went back to an Olympic mentality,” Ferguson concluded. “I started to surround myself around people that are hungry how I am and how they’ve been for a long time. And I started to find myself over at Wild Card a lot easier, because that’s where I knew that I could find that kind of grind.”
How do you think Tony Ferguson will do against Beneil Dariush?