Jingliang (19-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC) vs. Ferguson (25-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) was a surprising announcement for the Sept. 10 pay-per-view card, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
With Ferguson less than four months removed from a devastating front-kick knockout loss to Michael Chandler, the idea of “El Cucuy” moving up to welterweight for the first time since 2011 to face a heavy hitter – all while on a four-fight losing skid – seemed worrisome.
Jingliang called anyone who takes that stance a “motherf*cker” and stood behind Ferguson’s decision.
“For the people who say it like that – Tony Ferguson four losses in a row, never fought at welterweight – you forget who he is,” Jingliang told MMA Junkie through an interpreter on Monday. “He is Tony Ferguson. You forgot all those people whose face got cut by Tony Ferguson. Amazing fighters were choked by him. You should give credit to him. I believe if you fight against him, you would know how hard to deal with a guy like ‘El Cucuy’ is. You shouldn’t forget those fighters like Tony, who is a pioneer in the sport. You should give him respect.”
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Despite his support of Ferguson, China’s Jingliang admits he was caught off guard by the booking, which was confirmed just three weeks prior to UFC 279.
“I’m surprised,” Jingliang said. “Yes and no, surprised but not, because he is Tony Ferguson, ‘El Cucuy.’ That’s why we call him people’s champ. Tony Ferguson always gives us surprise.”
The biggest looming question around Ferguson is how he will deal with the knockout against Chandler and whether his trademark durability will hold up after such a quick turnaround.
Jingliang said he’s expecting the best out of the former interim lightweight champ and will be ready for three rounds of war come fight night.
“I don’t think it’s the wrong decision for Tony Ferguson,” Jingliang said. “There are a lot of legends. What are we are looking for in this game? This sport is a surprise. It’s going to be a great, great exciting fight.
“I’m unorthodox, as well. I know Tony Ferguson; his style is weird. It makes no sense to us, but anything can happen in the octagon. He has his style; I have my style with my fists. That solves all the problems.”
To hear more from Jingliang, watch the complete UFC 279 interview above.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 279.