One look at Tony Ferguson’s unique training methods will tell you that he’s not following anybody’s book when it comes to how he should prepare for fights.
There is nothing conventional about the former Ultimate Fighter winner, from the way he trains to the unique approach he takes when sharing information from his fight camps on social media.
Ferguson loves to push the boundaries of what will get him ready for a fight, which has transformed him into a master of reinvention by incorporating everything from resistance training to parkour-like training sessions that have him bouncing around the gym like he’s about to audition to play Keanu Reeves’ stand-in for the next “John Wick” sequel.
“It’s actually just having fun with it and not getting bored,” Ferguson explained when asked about his unique approach to training. “I come from a three-sport background. I played football, baseball and wrestling, I played three different sports growing up and that really stuck with me.
“So when I find myself not getting bored but almost starting to peak, I make sure and change it up just like the seasons. I make sure I keep it fresh.”
Last year, as Ferguson was just days away from a showdown against Khabib Nurmagomedov to crown a new lightweight champion, he suffered an unfortunate knee injury that knocked him out of the fight and put him into surgery instead.
Almost immediately after he was released from the hospital, the 35-year-old veteran went home and began lifting weights because if he couldn’t strengthen his leg, he was going to make sure the rest of his body stayed in peak condition.
It was during that time when Ferguson started sharing more and more videos of his own approach to rehabilitation. Despite the gnarled condition of his leg, Ferguson was going to prove that an injury couldn’t slow him down, even if the surgery definitely set him back from his goal of becoming UFC champion.
“I needed that to get me through my surgery,” Ferguson explained. “That was the one biggest thing and the fans just dug it. I gave myself a goal to get to 1 million followers on Instagram. Now I’ve done that and now it’s time to re-up my goals. To go out there and do the same [expletive], just a different day.”
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The training videos that Ferguson released ranged from punching a speed bag blindfolded to zipping up a hooded sweatshirt so he would look like Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool” before engaging in an acrobatic workout routine that could have easily scored him a spot on the next Cirque Du Soleil roster.
It was a real peek into Ferguson’s idiosyncratic routine that put him into his own category when compared to every other fighter on the UFC roster.
In the weeks leading up to his next fight against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 238 this weekend in Chicago, Ferguson hasn’t been as present on social media, much less releasing those same string of videos that gave an insight into his training camp.
As fun as it was to do that previously, Ferguson never wants to get predictable, so he was forced to switch up his plan of attack yet again, much like he’s plotting to do against Cerrone on Saturday night.
“What I put out on Instagram is not really who I am. It’s entertainment. Everybody thinks social media is the real-real. Yeah, it’s real, but to a certain extent,” Ferguson said. “I stay consistent, I try to have fun with it and when I’m not having fun with it, I’ll move on.
“People are going to burn themselves out and they want to know my playlist. They want to know what I’m doing. They want to know what I’m eating and what kind of vitamins [I’m taking]. For me, I didn’t get into the sport because of that. It was kind of a burnout.”
While he may not have been advertising his training routines for this fight, Ferguson definitely kept things interesting as he prepared for Cerrone.
It’s impossible to peg down Ferguson’s style when he fights, and that is exactly how he wants to structure his fight camps. For this particular matchup, Ferguson decided to work on his overhand right, but he wasn’t hitting pads or focus mitts in an attempt to sharpen his power and accuracy.
“This one, I was throwing baseballs,” Ferguson revealed. “I got my arm ready, my right hand feels strong. Just throwing pitches and having fun. Bringing my crew in to see how they could throw the ball. Some of them were really rough, some of them were good but it was all about having fun and making sure that we could bond together as a team.
“If we bond together as a team and we’ve got good vibes going and we’re barbecuing at the gym, we’ve done all that and we’ve had the serious camp and we’ve done the videos and had fun with it, as well.”
Ferguson consciously decided not to offer much insight into the day-to-day rigors getting ready for Cerrone, but he promises no stone was left unturned as he prepared for the fight.
He plans on showing that when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night.
“We’ve changed around the academy to fit my needs and what I need for this camp. This weekend at UFC 238, Donald Cerrone’s going to have his hands full,” Ferguson said. “Nothing has changed except no posting of the funny ass videos.
“The reason why I stopped that is because I became that type of guy and I only did it for a certain amount of time so that way I could make people believe that’s all I was, but I’m so much deeper. I’m like an onion in ‘Shrek’. There’s a lot more layers to me.”