Tony Ferguson regrets late takedown on Nate Diaz that led to submission loss: ‘I should have kept it standing’


Tony Ferguson made a costly mistake late in his fight with Nate Diaz.

The UFC 279 main event saw Diaz submit Ferguson with a guillotine choke in the fourth round in a bout that was contested primarily on the feet. Although both men enjoyed their parts in this wild, unpredictable headliner (which was fitting given the circumstances), Ferguson’s fight-ending submission is what he will remember most.

“I should have kept it standing,” Ferguson said at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “Period. Got to discuss somethings with my cornermen. Nothing bad. Nobody’s getting fired, nobody’s doing f****** bad. Just some tweaks, this is a new way for me to play MMA. My [originally scheduled opponent], Li [Jingliang], was a right-hander. It would have been harder for him to take down [against Li], but Nate prepared for Khamzat [Chimaev].. You saw Khamzat when he took down Kevin Holland. He went, took him out on the right side, it was a right-handed opponent, it was on his lead jab. He went straight, put him down.

“I guarantee you Nate was looking for that guillotine the whole entire camp. They had a full camp to be able to do stuff. You practice what you preach. We did a lot of wrestling practice and we did a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, it happened. I wish it would have made it to the fifth round. It is a f****** suck.” I will do it better the next round. It f****** sucks.”

Ferguson trained with the famous Jackson Wink MMA team in New Mexico ahead of UFC 279, with the camp focusing on his originally scheduled opponent Li Jingliang. The change followed a brutal knockout loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 274 this past May, a setback that marked Ferguson’s fourth straight loss.

Saturday’s main event was a competitive affair and Ferguson had success in the standup, even leading the fight on one judge’s scorecard heading into Round 4. It was not all bad though. Diaz turned his back to Ferguson, and at one time appeared to be having a conversation outside the cage. Ferguson, however, briefly dropped to his stomach in an effort to get Diaz to talk with him.

For Ferguson, all of it was just fun and games.

“We didn’t say nothing,” Ferguson said when asked if they talked during the fight. Ferguson said that he kicked him in his shin and he responded with, “Owwww.” You get what I’m referring to. The fun part was having lots of fun. It was a great time. I haven’t had a fight like that ever. This was one of the best experiences I could have. Being in the front of everyone, and being calm and super chilled, it was amazing. There were a lot of quick finishes before so it wasn’t like we got a s***** warm-up. Although when I go in the back and I put my hoodie on it was like an extra small, so it was kind of weird, but like I said none of this stuff matters.

“It’s what you do outside there. It was seeing everyone there and it was amazing. It felt like it was back where I needed to be. It has been a long time since I felt this way. I am mentally strong and physically strong. I feel good. I’m ready for the next one.”

Ferguson and Diaz made it clear ahead of, during, and after the fight that they have immense respect for each other, with Diaz calling Ferguson “a worthy OG representative of mixed martial arts” in his post-fight interview. According to Ferguson, an invitation has already been extended for him to train with the Diaz brothers in the future.

“I got the invite to their camp,” Ferguson said. Ferguson said, “So now I’m going be real. That is really cool. Although I have my camp which I love, I won’t say no to their requests. These guys are f ****** awesome.

“We run California and we do a lot for this sport. So as much as we would want to fight, we had to make things right for the UFC and the contracts and stuff, but I wish him nothing but the best, him and Nick [Diaz] and their whole entire crew. They’re tough and it’s cool as s*** to be a part of that vibe that’s right there. Like I said, ‘El Cucuy’ is a legend, I’m not going f****** nowhere.”