Thomson may never have suffered a losing streak quite like the six-fight skid Ferguson finds himself on now, but things still turned quickly for the former Strikeforce champion. Thomson was considered one of the best lightweights in the world and was inches away from vying for the UFC lightweight title before a three-fight losing streak in 2014-15 brought a sudden end to his run as a contender. The capstone on that three-fight skid was a brutal and bloody loss to Ferguson himself at UFC Fight Night 71. After that, Thomson was never the same. He ultimately retired following a brief stint in Bellator.
Considering that, it’s become increasingly difficult for Thomson to watch his 39-year-old former foe hurl himself into a brick wall over and over again despite the obvious signs that age and a career filled with wars have taken an irreparable toll on Ferguson as a fighter.
“You have to take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and go, ‘This is coming to an end real quick.’ It’s going to come sooner than you think,” Thomson said on his Weighing In podcast. “And if not, if it doesn’t come to an end real quick, there’s a whole — and you’ll notice it within a couple years of you being retired. And I’m saying this directly to Tony, is that you’re going to notice things in your brain. You’re going to notice things in the way you talk to people. You’re going to notice things in the way you talk to your wife, the way you talk to your kids, the way you handle yourself. You need to have a reality check.
“I can’t even explain it. You have to understand how to reel it in, because you’re the only one in charge of your mentality and your body language, and the words that come out of your mouth that can affect your relationships with everyone. And I’ve had these conversations with myself a lot, because there’s times when words come out of your mouth and you don’t realize it. And so I get nervous for him, watching him take these Ls. I become a little emotional, it’s a little f***ed up, but I care for the guy. I care for all these fighters.”
Thomson, 44, noted that he was 36 years old when he brutally lost to Ferguson in 2015 — the same age “El Cucuy” was when Ferguson suffered a vicious beat-down at the hands of Justin Gaethje to halt the former interim UFC champ’s record-tying 12-fight win streak and kick-start his losing skid in 2020. Ferguson has barely been competitive in his bouts since, losing lopsided results to Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler, Nate Diaz, and Bobby Green, with the Chandler knockout in particular being exceptionally violent.
Nonetheless, Ferguson marches onward. “El Cucuy” posted a 10-point statement on social media this past week proclaiming, “I’m Not Retiring & F*** Those Who Think I Should.”
Thomson sees that post as something more than a former contender’s defiance.
“It’s 10 years off his life,” Thomson said.
“Here’s the thing though, the Justin Gaethje fight and the Charles Oliveira fight, those two fights alone — and I speak from experience because it happened to me with [Ferguson] — at that age, the damage he took in that Gaethje fight, it changes you. It changes your body. It changes the way you think. … It’s not even so much [doing it] a couple times, it’s sometimes just one time. And at the age that he was at, I believe he was 36 or 37 at the time of the Gaethje fight, you’re not the same. And after the Tony fight, I was never the same. I never fought the same after that. I fought more conservative, I was always a step behind.
“I was in the back after that [Ferguson loss] for about probably 45 minutes to an hour, shivering in the shower. The shower was on hot steam water and my body was shivering. I couldn’t control myself. I was shivering so much. I’d lost so much blood, my body was in shock, and it took me a long time that night to actually get my body to stop shivering. I’d say it took me probably about two hours, three hours for my body not to shiver. And I had sweats on, I had sweaters on. We were in San Diego, by the way; the weather was nice.
“It’s just, you’re not the same fighter,” Thomson continued.
For now, Ferguson’s next step remains unclear. Despite the countless cries for his retirement across the MMA world following his UFC 291 loss to Green, “El Cucuy” remains under UFC contract and determined to mount a run back to the UFC lightweight title.
In his prime, Ferguson strung together one of the greatest win streaks in the history of the UFC lightweight division. His 12 consecutive victories from 2013-19 are matched only by Khabib Nurmagomedov, the rival and former champ with whom Ferguson was booked against five separate times but — because of injury and bad luck — never actually fought.
Thomson believes the misfortune Ferguson suffered during his championship window is causing Ferguson to now chase a moment that is no longer realistic.
“I think he’s chasing that fight that never happened against Khabib,” Thomson said. “And I’m not saying he’s trying to get the Khabib fight. I’m saying that he’s chasing that one big fight. He never got it. He was always right there. He never got the one big fight. He never got to fight Conor [McGregor]. He never got to fight Khabib. He never got the fight, that one.
“If you don’t want to retire, cool, do what you want. But you’ve got to take a good look in the mirror and just realize that even at 40 years old, 41 years old … if you live another 40 years, think about, you have a whole other life ahead of you. What are you going to f****** do? You have to start thinking about that now. He’s got young kids — they’re not going to get to college until you’re 60. That goes through my mind every single time. Your kids won’t even get to college until you’re 60 years old or 58. That money that you made in your career, it’s gone. It ain’t there. What else are going to do?”