The Weight Cutting Chronicles: Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson, UFC
Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson, UFC 274 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class.

Known as the ‘fight before the fight,’ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters cutting in excess of 30 pounds. Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower.

Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight and often there is always a risk of a fighter losing a percentage of their fight purse.

In this series, we will shine a light on select fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups.

Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game.

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (25-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs): 14-5 (UFC), Former UFC Interim Lightweight Champion, Missed weight 0x in UFC

Welterweight (170lbs): 1-0 (UFC), 3-0 (TUF 13), The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 Winner

Tony Ferguson is on a four-fight losing skid dating back to May of 2020, to his fight against Justin Gaethje for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship.

Ferguson is in uncharted territory, as prior to 2020, he had lost just one time in the UFC (Michael Johnson, 2012) and never been finished in his career pro MMA career.

This includes Ferguson’s 4-0 run through Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter back in 2011. Where Ferguson not only won the tournament, which took place at welterweight, but he also TKO’d or KO’d every opponent that he faced (with three of the four finishes coming in the first round).

It also includes 14-1 run thru the lightweight division and capturing the interim belt against Kevin Lee in 2017. Ferguson has defeated huge names in the UFC’s lightweight division like Yves Edwards, Edson Barboza, Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone.

Coming into the year 2020 Ferguson had not lost in eight years and was on a 12 fight win streak.

Tony has used the full allotted grace pound just four times in 19 fights at lightweight. But Ferguson has never missed weight in the UFC. 

During the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, Ferguson elected to cut and make weight ahead of the original UFC 249 fight date of April 18th. This was significant because, the fight had already been cancelled, but a then 36 year old Tony endured a full weight cut anyways.

A little less than a month later, with the Interim UFC lightweight belt on the line, Tony was finished for the first time in his MMA career, in the fifth round. Now, correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but the unnecessary weight cut less than a month prior to the fight definitely didn’t help Tony (at the same time, one could understand coming this close to a fight and just wanting to see the preparation all the way through).

After losing to current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and then Beneil Dariush, Ferguson was KO’d in spectacular fashion by Michael Chandler earlier this year.

Ferguson was knocked unconscious for the first time in his career despite looking really good in the fight up until that point.

Ferguson stands at 5’11” and has a 76.5″ reach with a slimmer build. Tony, a lifetime athlete, should have no problem with holding the extra 15lbs on his frame for the move up. Fans can expect to see an improvement to Ferguson’s already excellent cardio and a boost to his chin.

Ferguson’s move up in weight is a great way to potentially revitalize his career as we see so many aging combat sports fighters moving up in weight later in their careers.

Now 38 years old, Ferguson, is moving back up to 170lbs to see if he can get back to his winning ways when he takes on a power puncher in, Jingliang Li in the co main event of UFC 279.