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Morning Report: Eddie Bravo on Tony Ferguson’s return: ‘Tony is coming for war’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last year or so has been pretty rough on Tony Ferguson. After winning an interim lightweight title over Kevin Lee at UFC 216, he was later stripped of the belt when he was injured ahead of a proposed fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. After recovering from the knee injury, Ferguson rebounded with a win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 229 and looked poised to finally get his title shot. Instead, personal problems intervened.

Ferguson’s wife filed for a temporary restraining order against him after multiple police calls had to be made to their house. According to Cristina Ferguson, her husband had begun showing signs of mental health issues that were getting progressively worse. As a result, “El Cucuy” began receiving help and his wife dropped the case.

Ferguson was never arrested nor charged with a crime but the personal turmoil did temporarily sideline his fighting career. On Saturday at UFC 238, Ferguson will try to get things back on track, making his return to the octagon against Donald Cerrone instead of Khabib Nurmagomedov. And though it may not be the fight he was hoping to get, according to his longtime Jiu-Jitsu coach Eddie Bravo, Ferguson is still coming in at the peak of his powers.

“He’s sharper, stronger, in the best shape of his life. It’s the same Tony,” Bravo told Joe Rogan recently. “You’d think, ‘is it the same Tony after he had some family stuff go on? Is that going to change him?’ His opponents hope it changes him, but he’s the same Tony. When it comes to fighting, we don’t get into personal stuff. We just stick to fighting and the strategy. He’s sharper than ever. You can’t guarantee any wins, but I will guarantee he’s going to go in 100% Tony.”

Yesterday it was officially announced that Khabib Nurmagomedov would be unifying the lightweight title interim champion Dustin Poirier in September at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. The winner Ferguson-Cerrone is the presumptive favorite to challenge the undisputed champion next. And though Ferguson is the betting favorite this Saturday, Bravo recognizes that they have their work cut out for them to re-earn that title shot.

“That’s like Russian Roulette right there. They’re gonna be throwing bombs at each other. . .” Bravo said. “Cowboy is no joke,. He doesn’t fight like Khabib, he doesn’t fight like Conor [McGregor]. He fights like Tony. So it’s like similar, it’s like Tony vs. Tony. They’re both good on the ground. They’re very good on the ground. We respect Cowboy’s ground game a lot. We did what we could to make sure nothing bad happens on the ground.”

Cerrone is himself on quite the tear at lightweight. Cerrone has looked like a man on a mission since dropping back down to lightweight, knocking out surging contender Alexander Hernandez and then beating up sixth-ranked Al Iaquinta to claim a unanimous decision. And while Ferguson has had to deal with numerous distractions, Cerrone appears as focused as he’s ever been. But Bravo insists none of that will matter come Saturday.

“Tony is coming for war like he always does. It’s gonna be the same Tony in there throwing down.”

UFC 238 takes place in the United Center in Chicago, Ill. on Saturday, June 8.


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I came to London from Nigeria when i was 10 yrs old in 1990. I grew up in south London and had crazy teenage years filled with fights and life lessons. In 2006 i was 26 years old and i discovered the ufc while flicking through the sports channels late at night , it immediately captured me , the likes of rampage jackson, tito ortiz , randy couture , shogun were my favourite fighters and i became a fan instantly. i’d never set foot in any martial arts gym in my life and neither didn’t have any plans to. In 2008 i was 28 years old and i said to myself that i’m gonna fight for the ufc. i got off my sofa and started training muay thai and bjj , i had no martial arts experience but i was a tough cunt from south london. Martial arts immediately put more structure and discipline into my crazy life and helped me become a much better person than i was previously. I had my first pro fight after 2 weeks training and i won. within the first 2 years i was uk number 1, but the goal was to fight for the ufc. I won all my fights by ko and in 2012 i accepted a ufc contract after turning them down twice with an 11-0 record all knockouts. Ive had a great martial arts career and the last 4 fights have been tough losses to take not only for myself but for my family who is always first, ive given out a mostly knockouts and taken a few myself , that’s my fan loving style but it takes a toll on the body especially concussions which are not visible to the eye i’ve met a lot of great people along the way and travelled the world but it’s time to leave this chapter and on to the next one because there’s a life after fighting and i feel it’s my obligation to give more to combat sports which i love dearly outside of fighting. Thank you @danawhite and the @ufc for letting me showcase my skills and thank you to all my coaches and training partners who have helped and taught me along the way , much love to the fans and last but not least much love to my dear family who together we made this dream a reality. Jimi POSTERBOY Manuwa PB1 ... stay tuned

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