Tony Ferguson promises welterweight returns at UFC 279:. ‘You guys will see old-school T’, he said.


Ed. Notice: The interview was conducted before Khamzat Chimiev replaced Ferguson in UFC ‘s main event.

Tony Ferguson hopes to start a new chapter at UFC 279.

After an 11-year run as one of the best lightweights in the world, “El Cucuy” makes his return to the welterweight division on Saturday in a short-notice battle against Nate Diaz. The move comes on the heels of a four-fight losing streak and marks Ferguson’s homecoming to his original division for the first time since his winning run on The Ultimate Fighter 13 in 2011.

For the veteran contender, it’s been a refreshing change of scenery.

“It’s good, man. I had a slushie this week, which was pretty cool, and I had a soda going into an elevator. … They were looking at me like, ‘You’re crazy,’ [but] 170 is home, I love it,” Ferguson said at Wednesday’s media day ahead of UFC 279.

“This is where I hang my hat. I’m 14-2 with mostly knockouts at 170, so like I said, it’s where I hang my hat, and 155 is home too. I am here to collect .”

Ferguson, 38, said the move back to welterweight was one he started considering shortly after his brutal knockout loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 274. But it wasn’t his only major change. Ferguson had spent years training and putting together camps, but he finally decided to go out and train with a number of gyms and teams, including the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in New Mexico and California’s Black House MMA.

It was a revitalizing experience.

“I went back to the drawing board for two months, I started lifting heavy, real heavy, because I knew what I was going to do subconsciously,” Ferguson said. So I thought OK, it’s cool. I talked to the brass and we agreed that it would be cool to lift 170, 155 lbs, or whatever else I desired. They offered me a shot call. And I went to JacksonWink for this camp, I went to Black House a couple times, but most of the time all I did was I took these opportunities how I needed to. For the first time, I was able to step in a cage and practice in a room. Guys, it’s been quite a while since my last practice in a cage. I’ve always been on a mat. And it’s been the first time I’ve sparring in five or six years as well.

“So it’s a little bit more interesting. I’ve been doing this by the ‘schweaty balls,’ I guess you would say, and just going in there and doing the s***, but it’s different now — I put deodorant on, we’re cool now, we’re cleaning it up, and we’re going in there and we’re going to have some fun, man. We’re going to be seeing old-fashioned T .”


Ferguson added that the process of branching out and tapping into new minds and training philosophies helped to open his eyes to what he was missing in his career.

“I went fishing and what I got was a bunch of trainers that I believe in,” Ferguson explained. I’ve been scouting for people since childhood. I’m a scout, I know what the f*** to look for — I’ve been playing sports for 34 years, I’ve been playing sports a high level, and the last time I put a great team together we went on a 12-fight victory [streak] and we just made it happen.

” We were just connecting the pieces. This isn’t the end piece. But it is the part that makes you feel like the frame has been completed. It’s great to be able to work on my insides and do everything. I have some good friends who help me see the things I don’t, trust. It helps me to get in the octagon and do some sparring, as well as get the training .”

I need.

Ferguson’s return to welterweight has been, well, eventful.

Ferguson stepped up on last-second notice on Friday to face Diaz after Khamzat Chimaev missed weight by 7. 5 pounds. Ferguson is able to cash out what will likely be one of the largest paydays in his career and he welcomes it with open arms.

“You’ve got to be ready for anything that’s out here,” Ferguson told ESPN on Friday.

“I hope you guys enjoy the show.”