Tony Ferguson was originally billed against Cesar Gracie product, Yancy Medeiros, at UFC 184, but when the Hawaiian was forced out of the bout due to injury, Ferguson was left without an opponent. The UFC was quick to act, however, replacing Medeiros with Brazilian journeyman Gleison Tibau the very same day.

Tibau is a fighter that has been around the block. Fighting professionally since before the turn of the millennium, with over forty fights to his name and experience in multiple weight classes, Tibau is no easy out for any fighter. Speaking on Monday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio, though, Ferguson seemed unfazed by his opponent’s wealth of experience.

“You guys are like, ‘Man, I wonder what’s going to happen, this guy’s got so much experience’, but dude, I’ve got more experience in the back of my hand than a lot of these guys. I’ve got so much mat time, I played three different sports growing up”, Ferguson said. “I’ve got a bunch of different things that are in my repertoire that he hasn’t seen before. I know that he’s a takedown artist but I’m a wrestler at heart and I’ve been starching fools”.
 
Ferguson, a student of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, says he’s been focusing on his ground game and has been enjoying how his submission skills compliment his freestyle wrestling base. In discussing his training, Ferguson hinted at a potential strategy for the upcoming bout.
 
“I think this fight you’re going to see a little more wrestling out of me.”
 
Tibau – an enormous 155 pounder –  is know for his takedowns and his ability to hold people down, but Ferguson isn’t worried.
 
“This isn’t a wrestling match, it’s mixed martial arts, so Gleison Tibau is going to have his hands full if he just wants to sit there and lay on me just like how Danny Castillo did”, Ferguson said. “I used to wrestle at 184lbs; I bumped up two weight classes and I was wrestling these guys that were 205, 210lbs like no problem and I’m barely making 174. So I’m used to these big brutes coming after me, and… so, my practice partners are the exact same size. So it’s not going to be any different. It’s not going to translate for me any different when I go inside that octagon“”.
 
Ferguson, one of the more active fighters on the UFC roster, scored victories in all three of his bouts during 2014. Sounding both animated and motivated throughout the interview, he attributes his recent success to hard work and loving what he does. Having recently changed camps, Ferguson is brimming with confidence and seems thoroughly satisfied with his preparation.
 
“Anything he’s going to throw at me, I’m going to be ready for. I don’t even care”.
 
Despite his brash disposition, El Cucuy isn’t getting ahead of himself. When asked whether he thought a title shot might be on the horizon, Ferguson refused to look past Tibau.
 
“I’m not really worried about a title shot right now”, Ferguson replied. “For me it’s one fight at a time”, he continued. “I want to make sure that when I go in this division I pick off each and every single fighter. I want to make sure they’re scared of El Cucuy… I want to put fear in people.”
 
Ferguson is confident going into his fight this weekend, and he has every reason to be. He is currently riding a four-fight win streak and has won ten of his last eleven fights. The Ultimate Fighter veteran doesn’t see his hot streak coming to an end any time soon either.
 
“I’ve been working my ass off, I’ve changed a bunch of things up in my game, I’ve added a new head coach, which you guys are going to see, I’m not going to name any names, and I’ve changed some things up for the best. I’ve taken the advice of all my coaches and my training partners, and you’re going to see it inside that octagon.”
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports