LAS VEGAS — Tony Ferguson will walk to the Octagon at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night without gold on his shoulder. That’s not something he readily accepts.
“El Cucuy” was the UFC’s interim lightweight champion until the belt was taken away following a severe knee injury he sustained prior to a scheduled fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April. Ferguson will turn around — just five months after surgery — to fight Anthony Pettis at UFC 229 this weekend.
“It’s been five months since my injury,” Ferguson said Tuesday at a media day at the UFC Performance Institute. “It took a long f*cking time for me to be here. They took my belt, they took a bunch of zeroes from my pay check. How do you think I f*cking feel? It’s all fun and games, right?”
Ferguson (23-3) became interim champion by beating Kevin Lee by third-round submission at UFC 216 in October 2017. He has won an incredible 10 in a row, seven by finish. Ferguson, 34, believes he is not only the rightful interim champ, but the rightful undisputed champ.
Instead, though, Khabib Nurmagomedov won the undisputed title with a win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Nurmagomedov will defend that belt against former champ Conor McGregor on Saturday night. Ferguson won’t leave Las Vegas with a belt, even if he beats Pettis.
“I’m the f*cking champ,” Ferguson said. “See this gold right here. I didn’t lose my belt. They took it from me. The one thing they didn’t take is my smile. So after my surgery, I made a conscious decision to not want anybody else’s help that didn’t want to help me. So yeah, I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder. It’s still there. It f*cking weighs a lot. But in this whole entire process, I gained so much more than you guys would ever imagine.”
Ferguson thinks he’s the best lightweight in the world and he feels he has the résumé to prove it. He’s no fan of the Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor main event and the build up to it. Ferguson called McGregor “a f*cking terrorist throwing a dolly” on Tuesday, in reference to the infamous bus attack that got McGregor arrested in April. He’s hoping neither man wins Saturday night.
“Double knockout,” Ferguson said. “I’m gonna keep saying it this whole entire time. I hope these bitches knock each other out. They took enough shit, f*ck it. I hope they deal with what they gotta deal with and squash this shit. This is a man’s sport. We’re trying to clean this shit up, yet you got these two knuckleheads going out there and making an ass out of themselves. So, whatever. You want me to cut a promo? You’re talking to the wrong guy. Talk to these guys.”
If he beats Pettis, Ferguson insinuated that he is contractually next in line for the UFC lightweight title — regardless who wins between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. He said he’s “always ready” and will step in if something goes wrong with one of the principles in the main event.
“It’s in my contract,” Ferguson said. “So all these mother fuckers out there on TMZ saying they’re next. Nah, I’m next. But I’m the first. And I’m the last, too.”