The Calculated Rise of Tony Ferguson

Imagine that a fighter in the UFC with an 18-3 overall record, with an 8-1 record inside the octagon, is a former TUF winner, and has never lost consecutive fights in his career. Now imagine that this fighter has never received a title shot. That may not be too hard to imagine seeing how the UFC is stacked with talent and title shots are hard to come by but what if this particular fighter has yet to fight a top 10 ranked opponent? You would say that is crazy right? Well that is the sad truth for Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson but the good news is that he is now scheduled to take on #9 ranked Josh Thomson on July 15th in San Diego.

Ferguson, who is currently ranked #13, has been in the UFC since 2011. He earned his way into the company by winning his season of the Ultimate Fighter. He was a member of Brock Lesnar’s team and even after the show was over, Ferguson was invited to train full time under the “Death Clutch” banner. Lesnar was said to be extremely picky about his training partners so the fact that he invited Ferguson to be a member should have been the first sign that the man’s skills were for real.

There have been so many winners of the Ultimate Fighter that it has been hard to track what every winner from every season has done after winning the show’s competition. In the show’s history only seven former winners have received title shots and only three have actually gone on to wear UFC gold around their waists. Of all the recent TUF winners, Ferguson has remained rather consistent in the UFC. He has not jumped up and down in weight classes and after suffering a decision loss to Michael Johnson back in 2012, he as gone on to win five fights in a row with four stoppages.

Since the lost to Johnson, Ferguson has passed every test the UFC has put in front of him proving that his skill set is evolving and that he is getting better as a fighter. Ferguson has been clamoring for a top 10 ranked opponent for a while now and in Thomson he will get a firm test. Thomson is a true veteran of the sport and has been in countless battles and has fought for titles on several occasions.

It is interesting that the UFC matched up Ferguson with the #9 ranked fighter as if they are saying, “Well you wanted a top 10 guy right? We will give you a guy right on the edge of rakings.” You can read this in two ways. Maybe the UFC does not think much of Ferguson and does not think he will crack the top 10 and is not worth putting him up against the likes of a Gilbert Melendez, Benson Henderson, Myles Jury, or a Edson Barboza. Or maybe the UFC really likes Ferguson and wants to develop him at their pace.

Ferguson is of Mexican heritage and is very proud of it. Even his nickname, “El Cucuy”, is folklore of Mexican culture basically being the equivalent of the Boogieman. It is no secret that the UFC is desperate to gain control of the Mexican fight fans. Boxing has always had a strong hold in that demographic due to the high volume of fighters coming out of Mexico and of American born fighters with Mexican heritage. The UFC is making its second trip to Mexico in less than a year with Cain Velasquez headlining the event this upcoming June. If the UFC wants to continue to make trips across the border or even have several more events in the States where there is a strong demo of Mexican-Americans and steal some fans away from boxing they need to start pushing the Mexican stars they have now.

The UFC has shown patience with Erick Perez, who is the only Mexican born fighter on the roster, as they see his value down the line. Maybe that was their plan all along for Tony Ferguson? There is not coincidence that this fight with Thomson, the biggest of Ferguson’s career will take place in San Diego, which is right on the border of Mexico and has a strong Mexican demographic. This has the potential to be Ferguson’s coming out party. The time is now for Ferguson to show the world that he belongs in the top 10 of the UFC’s most competitive division. If Ferguson continues his climb then it would have been a slow one but current lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos also had a slow climb to the top and look at him now.

Hall of Fame Wrestler Gives His Support to CM Punk

Piper

We are several months removed from Phil “CM Punk” Brooks’ bombshell announcement that he had signed with the UFC and still there is reactions and comments from personalities of both the worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. We have heard from both sides and both have had positive and negative comments about CM Punk’s decision. WWE Hall of Fame inductee “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gave his thoughts to MMA Junkie about the former WWE champion’s choice to enter the UFC.

“I love the guy and he’s got the courage to leave someplace where you have millions of dollars and to go on and try something else. That’s what a man’s made out of. How he’ll do there? You know, we’ll all watch. He’s a smart kid and I think he’ll do great.”

It is nice to hear someone of Piper’s stature give his support to CM Punk. While many feel that Punk is stealing a spot from other fighters trying to get signed with the UFC but you cannot fault Zuffa for taking a business first motto in Punk’s signing. Punk may not have any experience inside the octagon but he certainly has experience in the media and whenever his first fight takes place it will certainly be a media frenzy.

Luke Rockhold Gets a Gift from Blackhouse MMA

Let the mind games begin. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has never been one to smack talk opponents but he might be changing his tune especially with how much attention the ever outspoken Conor McGregor is getting. If Machida has not gotten that memo about selling a fight then his management team certainly has.

Machida’s upcoming opponent, Luke Rockhold, shared via Instagram a package he received in the mail. It was a Blackhouse MMA t-shirt. Blackhouse is of course the famous MMA gym where Machida and Anderson Silva have spent many training camps. Rockhold tagged Machida’s manager Ed Sosres in the photo thanking him for the gesture.

@edblackhouse thanks for the care package buddy. I just ran out of TP, good looking out 🙂

A post shared by Luke Rockhold (@lukerockhold) on

There was no official word if it was in fact Soares who sent the shirt to Rockhold. Machida and Rockhold will face off in April at the UFC on Fox 15 event.

TUF Coach Gets UFC 188 Fight

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America coach Efrain Escudero will now also be on the UFC 188 card live from Mexico City. Escudero who is a former TUF winner will take on Drew Dober. Escudero’s coaching counterpart, Kelvin Gastelum, was announced to fight on the card last week against Nate Marquardt.

Escudero has had a on again, off again relationship with the UFC since first being released from the company in 2010. Escudero is currently in his third stint with the UFC and is 1-1 since returning back in September of 2014.

Drew Dobbs is most infamously known as being on the wrong end of one of the worst stoppages in MMA history. His opponent, Leandro Silva, had Dobbs in a guillotine choke but could not execute the move properly. Dobbs was fighting for position and the referee for the bout thought Dobbs had lost consciousness and stopped the fight. The stoppage was so bad that the CABMMA (Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission) overruled his lost to Leandro Silva and it is officially a no contest.

The UFC is once again stacking this Mexico City card with fighters of Mexican heritage just as they did for UFC 180 back in November of 2014. As of this posting here is the projected card for UFC 188, which takes place at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico on June 13th.

Cain Velasquez (c) vs. Fabricio Werdum (ic)

Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt

Efrain Escudero vs. Drew Dober

Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill

Alejandro Perez vs. Patrick Williams

Johnny Case vs. Frank Trevino

Yair Rodriguez vs. Charles Rosa

Augusto Montano vs. Cathal Pendred

Clay Collard vs. Gabriel Benitez

Gustafsson and Teixeira to Headline in Berlin

Former UFC light heavyweight title contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira will main event the UFC Fight Pass exclusive card live from the O2 Arena in Berlin, Germany on June 20th.

Gustafsson is coming off a devastating loss in his homeland of Sweden to Anthony Johnson. It was a fight that saw Gustafsson suffer his first knockout loss but more importantly it dropped Gustafsson from his number one contender status.

Teixeira has also hit a bit of a rough patch after losing his title bout to Jon Jones. Fans last saw Teixeira loss a rather lackluster bout to Phil Davis by unanimous decision. Needless to say both men are in desperate need of a win to get back to the title picture in the light heavyweight division.

Ronda Rousey Enters the WWE Ring

Ronda Rousey took part in the biggest wrestling event of the year on Sunday. Wrestlemania 31 was held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California in front of a record crowd of over 76,000 people.

Former WWE champion The Rock made a surprise appearance during the broadcast to interrupt a promo from WWE owners Stephanie McMahon and husband Triple H. After a few harsh words by the Rock, McMahon took offense and slapped the “Furious 7” star and taunted him by saying that he would never hit a woman. The Rock proceeded to the outside of the ring and approached the section to where Rousey was sitting. After a few words Rousey jumped the guardrail and together the two entered inside the ring to confront McMahon and Triple H.

After an exchange of words Rousey cleaned house on her own first by judo flipping Triple H and then locking McMahon in a standing arm bar as if only to show the WWE owner who was really in control.

Rousey has attended several WWE shows in the past and no doubt this exposure will only help her career outside the octagon. Oh and by the way, both Rousey and The Rock star in the upcoming “Furious 7” film that hit theaters Easter weekend. Below is an official photo from the WWE’s Twitter feed and reaction from Rousey’s account as well.

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