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Tony Ferguson talks Dana White’s matchmaking, having zero privacy, and Ali Abdelaziz

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It’s been a while since Tony Ferguson has spoken to the media.

He hasn’t lost a step.

Participating in a scrum at the open workouts Wednesday ahead of his fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 in Chicago this weekend, Ferguson covered a number of topics including having to deal with private matters while in the public eye, if there’s beef with high-profile MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz, and his thoughts on UFC president Dana White’s handling of the lightweight division.

Ferguson recently saw his personal issues spotlighted when reports came out that his wife had filed a request for a temporary domestic violence restraining order in March following allegations of Ferguson exhibiting ”frightening” behavior. Despite not being arrested nor charged with any crime, White expressed concern about Ferguson’s fighting future.

According to Ferguson, he never thought that his career was in jeopardy.

“Not even one time that crossed my mind,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been here since The Ultimate Fighter, since 2011, even before then since I had my first loss, I met my wife. Had good, bad things happen, you have to look at the good side of things and my faith has kept me so strong, you have no idea. I thank God everyday, and I thank my family for being there.

“Faith, family, friends, I want to say thank you to the media, I know I’ve been a bit of an asshole back in the day, I’m still an asshole, but we’re here to do business. We saved this card, we heard that they needed a superhero, so I’m here right now.”

Ferguson explained that he’s been used to having zero privacy since his time in the TUF house where he was under constant surveillance.

“I was inside an Ultimate Fighter house when I had hundreds of cameras on me, I had zero f*cking privacy already,” Ferguson said. “I think more than anything else I feel for my wife because of what she had to go through, so f*ck TMZ. F*ck them, I don’t even have anything nice to say to them.”

“Things have always been good,” Ferguson added, providing an update on his domestic situation. “Everybody has their good days and their bad days, there’s always two sides to a story. I’m not one to throw anybody under a bus, but check this out: I’ll be the first one to step in front of it.”

Though Ferguson was his usual verbose self at Wednesday’s workouts, one topic he casually dismissed was any supposed feud with Abdelaziz, who represents one of Ferguson’s longtime rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov among several other UFC stars.

Ferguson was asked about the back-and-forth between him and Abdelaziz and he joked that the manager wasn’t even worth feuding with in person.

“He might have been on the sauce,” Ferguson said. “That’s a Twitter warrior, I get it. I have gif wars, he wants to go gif wars I’ll destroy him all day. But I mean it’s as easy and plain and simple as this, he’s not a fighter, he’s a manager.

“He’s a disappointment to the fans, to my fans, and to the real fans, to the hardcore—I call my fans the hardcore base, that’s the crew. So you hear all those guys saying, ‘champ shit only,’ that’s hardcore. Those are the real fans. Those guys pay the money for the pay-per-views. And the guys like Ali, those are guys that f*cking stream that shit.”

Ferguson also had a bone to pick with his boss, especially considering that White made the decision to strip “El Cucuy” of an interim title when an injury forced him out of a meeting with Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 last April. Since that time, Nurmagomedov claimed a vacant lightweight championship and Dustin Poirier won a vacant interim belt by defeating Max Holloway.

White later said that it was Ferguson who was supposed to fight Holloway, an account that Ferguson disputes the details of.

“I was coached to say ‘no.’ I’ll be real with you guys, when have you guys ever known me to say ‘no’ to a fight,” Ferguson said. “Literally, this is a round robin tournament. It’s not one of those bracket final four ones anymore. … Seriously, straight up, you can try your best to win the title. I won the title. It got taken from me, a guy like Robert Whittaker got hurt, same f*ckin’ way. There’s politics in that shit. I got an Ultimate Fighter trophy, which hardly any of these dudes that are holding a belt have. I’ve got a title belt.

“If I have a roof over my head and if I’m cashing checks and choking some necks I’m always happy. The trophy don’t mean shit to me, they’re going to do what they’re gonna have to do to protect their guys and their pockets, so f*ck ‘em. They don’t like me, f*ck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

As for White saying that Ferguson would need to undergo a proper evaluation before returning to the Octagon, Ferguson thinks the situation could be flipped the other way.

“I think he needs to be evaluated,” Ferguson said. “We need to check his head, I don’t know how many interim title fights he can try to make me f*ckin’ fight. Straight up, I did everything I needed to do to get back to where I’m at. I’m happy to be here, this ain’t no 30 for 30, this ain’t my time for that shit. I’m outrunning the 20 year olds and I’m out-sprinting the other guys, and as long as I keep doing that shit, don’t feel bad. Don’t ask those dumb questions and let’s keep f*cking moving forward, baby.

“Let’s keep doing this shit and keep singing some good songs and making that barbecue. Cowboy, I’m coming after you, baby, you better be ready.”