Tony Ferguson will seek his 10th consecutive UFC victory — not to mention, an interim lightweight title — when he meets Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 209 next weekend in Las Vegas.
And although he has received a steady dose of questions related to Conor McGregor, the current lightweight champion, during the buildup to this fight, Ferguson says his focus is locked on the task at hand.
“It’s cool, I gave Conor a pass,” Ferguson said when asked if he gets annoyed by McGregor questions. “He’s having his baby. I understand that. I told him, ‘Go spend some of that money you’ve earned. Do your thing.’”
When it comes to self promotion, Ferguson (22-3) takes a different approach from the Irishman.
McGregor (21-3), who is currently taking an extended break as he prepares for the birth of his first child in April, proclaimed himself the best fighter in the world years ago — and continues to do so on a seemingly daily basis.
Ferguson, who fights out of Southern California, says he’ll probably never consider himself the best lightweight in the world — even if he goes on to win and unify the UFC title. That type of acknowledgement would rob Ferguson of a certain edge he likes to carry.
“Absolutely not,” said Ferguson, when asked if defeating Nurmagomedov would prove he’s the best lightweight. “That’s the difference between myself and everybody else. Obviously, I haven’t had too many flawless victories, so until then, I’m going to be a student.
“I’m not going to start thinking I’m the s— or focusing on Conor. I’m going to stay grounded, humbled and keep earning my way to victory. ‘TSKYH’ is tattooed on my arm. ‘Think Strong Keep Your Head.’ That means don’t be floating in the clouds.”
And while Ferguson isn’t looking to talk about McGregor, he has come to expect it by now. And in his opinion, McGregor has lost that “TSKYH” mindset that Ferguson abides by.
It’s not a guarantee McGregor will face the winner of Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, as he seems more interested in “money fights” than mandatory title defenses. His greatest pursuit as of late, of course, has been a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.
To Ferguson, that shows where McGregor’s head is. It’s certainly not in the trenches of the UFC’s lightweight division, which makes him vulnerable whenever he chooses to defend his belt.
“Money made McGregor soft,” Ferguson said. “I say ‘McNuggets,’ because he’s made of that fake s—, that pink stuff from McDonalds that nobody wants.
“Do I get a little pissed [I’m asked about him]? Yeah, I get a little heated. But the real belt is between myself and Khabib. He’s 24-0. Dude, I forget how many wins I have. I don’t even care anymore. Those numbers keep racking up.”