After winning the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” Saturday night with a crushing, first-round knockout of Ramsey Nijem, welterweight Tony Ferguson (Pictured; Spike TV file photo) isn’t hiding his delight.
From relative unknown to “TUF 13” winner, “El Cucuy” rode the figurative elevator from the basement to the penthouse in just a few months.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Ferguson said in a Saturday video interview on UFC.com “There are no words to express how I feel. It’s been such a long journey these last three years. I started out on the bottom in MMA and worked my way to the top. This is proof that dreams do come true as long as you work hard.”
Ferguson ended Nijem’s night early, closing the show at Las Vegas’ Palms Casino Resort in style. Both fighters threw leather to start the bout, but it was Ferguson who scored the first clean takedown of the fight. Just before the round entered its final minute, Ferguson charged ahead and landed a sharp left hook to Nijem’s jaw. The Vegas crowd cheered as a backpedaling Nijem was knocked stiff and fell to the canvas.
“As soon as he hit me a couple of times, I woke up a little bit. It kind of sucks that I have to get hit to get woken up,” said Ferguson. “That left hook is my moneymaker. We did a lot of three-punch combos in the back before [the fight], and it was just out there waiting [to put him] on the ground.”
During his stint on the Spike TV reality show, Ferguson trained under the supervision of Brock Lesnar. Following the season’s taping, but prior to the live finale, Lesnar invited the Californian to train with Team Death Clutch in Minnesota, a gesture not lost on his appreciative pupil. After walking away with a win and his “TUF 13” trophy, Ferguson called the former heavyweight champion to discuss his victory.
“He was just so proud of me... It was hard for me not to tear up. I look at Brock as a coach and uncle and an older brother. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Ferguson. “Before I left, he said, ‘[This is] the calm before the storm. Just make sure you bring the storm when you need it.’”
Viewed by some fans as the villain of “TUF 13” due to a drunken outburst which saw him insult fellow cast member Charlie Rader, Ferguson reflected on how much his victory truly meant in the locker room after the biggest win of his career.
“It’s just surreal. I’m so excited now to be the winner of this trophy. It’s the biggest thing in my whole entire life, and it just means so much.”