Tony Ferguson isn’t going anywhere but back to the gym to work on what went wrong in his fight against Charles Oliveira so he can come back stronger in 2021.
That’s the message received from the former interim lightweight champion in his first statement after suffering a decision loss to Oliveira in the UFC 256 co-main event this past weekend. It was Ferguson’s second defeat in a row after he fell to Justin Gaethje by TKO back in May.
The fight between Ferguson and Oliveira largely took place on the ground with the Brazilian landing multiple takedowns while working for numerous submissions over the course of three rounds. In the end, Oliveira won a lopsided decision as he earned his eighth consecutive victory.
“No excuses,” Ferguson wrote on Instagram. “I felt flat. I went out and welcomed the attack instead of defend. The warm up time in the back for UFC hasn’t been the same since pre-COVID. Still no excuses. Times change and so do people. The time from hotel to UFC APEX is much more condensed and the aggressive level we needed was not reached. My fault.
“After the fight, we were checked by doctors and went back to the hotel. I felt it was in order to hit pads/spar immediately because the fight was fresh in my mind and blood circulation in my arm was needed. I really needed to figure out what the f’n problem was from the fight. Solution. Pre-fight time management.”
Perhaps the scariest moment in the fight for Ferguson came at the close of the opening round when Oliveira locked up a nasty armbar. Oliveira twisted and torqued the arm in an attempt to finish the submission but somehow Ferguson survived until he was saved by the bell.
It appears the submission attempt didn’t cause any serious damage but Ferguson admits he was definitely in trouble once Oliveira sunk in the armbar.
“My arm is all right,” Ferguson said. “The armbar was really tight. The thought of my son Armand Anthony’s ability to be double jointed in his elbow during that sequence and my mental capacity to endure pain got me through it. Breath, mental toughness.”
According to Ferguson, his game plan against Oliveira was to keep the fight standing as he sought to end his night by knockout. Instead, he spent the majority of all 15 minutes on his back, fending off Oliveira’s attacks as he put on a nearly flawless performance.
“Chuck was looking [to] take my back or go for the armbar as soon as we hit the mat, thus I didn’t worry about the mount,” Ferguson explained. “Kid was slick but so am I. I was looking for the knockout standing and the D’arce from bottom position once we hit the jits transitions.
“It was fun fighting against a wet blanket (aka heavy pressure opponent). Mark my words, that scenario won’t happen again. Period.”
After putting together an incredible 12-fight win streak in the lightweight division, Ferguson has now suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.
Following the event, UFC president Dana White shut down any consideration that Ferguson was potentially reaching the end of his career but said that the 36-year-old veteran should probably take some time off before deciding what’s next.
For his part, Ferguson is resolute in his determination to return to action in hopes of earning a much different result in his next outing.
“I’m grateful and thankful for my talents,” Ferguson said. “I have learned so much about myself this year and what my purpose in life is. My search for that epic word called ‘greatness’ isn’t over. Understand crew, we are far from being retired. So message to my haters ‘shabam.’ Shout out to my team I put together on three weeks’ notice. We’re still green. Boys, thanks for not deserting me.
“Team, we’re barely scratching the surface to what we can truly accomplish and for that I say amen. It was great making weight and being around my fight fam for the week. I can’t wait till we compete in front of a big loud crowd again. It’s not the same without you all.”