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Tony Ferguson pulls knife talking about bear tracking, reveals Bobby Green run-in before UFC 291

A UFC media day with Tony Ferguson is rarely dull, and the former interim UFC lightweight champion didn’t disappoint on the dais for his UFC 291 meeting with Bobby Green.

Fresh from a training camp in Big Bear, Calif., Ferguson talked up his skills tracking a bear that meandered around his facilities. Then he pulled out a knife to prove his outdoor bonafides.

“It’s blades and shades,” said Ferguson, repeating a catchphrase.

The move certainly got everyone’s attention in the press room. But Ferguson also drew headlines before he booked Saturday’s fight. Concerned fans flooded his timeline after a DUI in which he allegedly flipped his truck on the streets of Hollywood, Calif. On that, “El Cucuy” promised “some lawsuits and some other s*** going down.” Then he redirected to what he said were ongoing issues with the media — and his pursuit of a curious bear.

Ferguson returns to the octagon on a five-fight skid, normally well past the point of no return for slumping fighters. No matter his recent fortunes, though, MMA fans still love him and root for his success.

To reward them, he said he asked to face Green, a slick veteran with some of the best boxing skills in the UFC. The two were cordial in several meetings until Green, he said, decided to text him on Father’s Day.

“[He texted], ‘Is this El Cucuy?’” Ferguson said, then paused and loosened his neck for dramatic effect. “Happy Father’s Day, I told him.”

“Now, I’m not going to call him a b****-ass, but I just saw him in the lobby not too long ago,” he added. “Mr. Flashy. It’s cool, it’s your thing, I get you. But when he saw me, he looked like he saw the fourth horseman of death. It was kind of f****** crazy.”

There’s no telling whether Ferguson will get another chance if he’s unsuccessful against Green, and no telling whether he wants another one. At this point, he said, his main goal is “I want to win.”

“You’ve got to realize it, dude, I’m not used to losing,” he continued. “I’ve been competing in sports since I was maybe 4, 5. I’ve been competing in sports for 30 years at the highest level. ... Man, you get burned out. It took a full pandemic for me to lose my 12-fight winning streak. I’m not mad at it. But I had to fire some coaches, because I was trying to get them back, and they weren’t good for me. It was toxic to me, and I didn’t realize it.

“What I’ll say is that my focus is back.”

At the same time, Ferguson is embracing interests outside the octagon, taking continuing education at Harvard Business School, coaching up-and-coming fighters, and, of course, being a father and husband.

As he attempts to get back in the win column, Ferguson is also watching his lightweight colleagues. Of the upcoming fight between his former management stablemate Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler, who knocked him out with a vicious front kick, he hoped the opposing TUF 31 coaches “knocked each other the f*** out.” He hoped Nate Diaz, who outpointed him in his previous outing, and Jake Paul do the same, along with UFC 291 headliners Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier.

“I was supposed to coach on The Ultimate Fighter [31],” Ferguson said. “I was supposed to coach ... against Kabieber [Khabib Nurmagomedov]. He’s off on his world tour still. And I guess whatever he had happening, he didn’t have the balls to go coach his cousin. ... We were in November when I knew we were going to coach against him. ... I had meetings with [UFC executive] Hunter [Campbell]. This was game. I did everything I needed to go in order to get Khabib back, but he ran away like a little p*****. So, f*** you Khabib.”

Ferguson likely will never get the chance to compete against Nurmagomedov, a fight that was scratched on five separate occasions. He may still burn for that fight, but the bigger one right now is keeping on the active UFC roster.

“I feel at this point in time in my life, I‘m just barely hitting my prime,” Ferguson said. “One of my coaches, we were doing mitts between interviews. ... I didn’t even wrap up. I went out and hit the pads, and I’m really sharp right now. I’m as sharp as I look.”

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