Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson is training for the biggest fight of his career when he faces Rafael dos Anjos in Mexico City.
He is on an eight-fight win streak, with recent victories over Josh Thompson, the lethal Edson Barboza and "Groovy" new prospect, Lando Vannata. Thousands of feet up, surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, Ferguson trains in elevated isolation at Big Bear in a camp he built with his own hands.
"This is in the middle of nowhere. I haven't posted on Instagram, I haven't posted anywhere," Ferguson said to Champions.co. "I made my phone calls, got my own sponsorships for my cage and did my own stuff. I paid for my own things. I'm tired of labels. This is my label right here: El Cucuy."
Ferguson has set himself apart from the rest philosophically and physically. In the midst of skateboarding, Wing Chun dummy practice, and hard preparation, Ferguson speaks like a man predisposed to greatness, and says that reaching the goal is just about the time elapsing.
"I'm going to punch [Rafael dos Anjos] in the face, he's going to shoot and I'm going to submit him," Ferguson said. "I'm going to put him in the 'Truck,' and we're going to go 10th Planet all day. We're going to get out of there and celebrate."
The frothing shark tank of the lightweight division is in chaos. Not only is it one of the most talented and deep divisions in the UFC, its champion, Eddie Alvarez is defending his title against the featherweight champion, Conor McGregor. This has prompted threats from Khabib Nurmagomedov to leave the UFC.
"Good. Get the hell out of here," Ferguson said about Nurmagomedov. "Drop a weight class or go up a weight class. You don't belong here, dude. You can't fight one time then get a fake belt."
If Ferguson manages to beat dos Anjos, a lightweight title shot seems like a sure thing, but if (or when) that time comes, he has a request.
"When I do get to that belt ... give me a new one."
Ferguson will fight dos Anjos on November 5th at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale.
Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports