Ferguson, the No. 2 ranked UFC lightweight who has won a division-best nine straight fights, first said the remark last week on UFC 209’s media conference call. He doubled down on that at Wednesday’s open workouts, and when asked about Tyron Woodley’s retort that he and Stephen Thompson are the main event for a reason — because Woodley is the reigning UFC welterweight champion — Ferguson pointed his crosshairs directly at the 170-pound king.
“I heard he fired back, but you know what? He better watch out because I won The Ultimate Fighter at 170,” Ferguson said.
Indeed, Ferguson (22-3) first entered the UFC as a welterweight in 2011 with an undefeated run through The Ultimate Fighter 13. “El Cucuy” scored a quartet of nasty knockouts on the show, culminating in a first-round finish of Ramsey Nijem in the season’s finale. He subsequently moved down to 155 pounds, where he has put together an exceptional 11-1 record under the UFC umbrella.
Over the course of that run, Ferguson has talked about one day returning the welterweight ranks. And ahead of his title fight against Nurmagomedov, he has committed himself to a new strength training regimen that he feels has already paid dividends on his 5-foot-11 frame.
“I wanted a change,” Ferguson said. “Something different, man. I’m tired of looking like a skinny little Mexican out there and everybody doubting me, so I wanted to put some time in. I started my camp in early January, man. I was in a New Year’s resolution to change a little bit. I’m, like, not even midway — I’m like a quarter through my training as far as my weight lifting.”
Nonetheless, while the possibility always exists of a potential move back to welterweight for Ferguson one day, it doesn’t appear likely anytime soon, as Ferguson spoke highly of Thompson’s ability to rule over the division.
“You’ve got a good guy in Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson that’s at 170. So you know what? The torch needs to be held by somebody that’s great,” Ferguson said. “Because champions are made in the dark, baby. We don’t need the lights and the spotlight. That stuff is for everybody else, man. But the people who are holding onto the torches — you’ve got Max Holloway at 145. I’m like, that’s cool, man. That’s in good hands right now. I don’t need to go to that weight class.
“One-seventy, we’re going to have ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson beat the f*ck out of T-Woodley. You know what, I’ll say that again; I hope they have a good fight, and I hope ‘Wonderboy’ wins. So that’s at 170. If that torch is held by ‘Wonderboy,’ that’s cool, I don’t have to go to 170. Because where I’m from, we got weight classes, baby, and we respect that.
“So I will gladly hold the torch at 155 for a long time.”