Tony Ferguson, a former Ultimate Fighter winner, improved to 5-1 inside the Octagon by dealing Katsunori Kikuno his first knockout loss at UFC 173 Saturday night.
Ferguson landed a perfectly-timed left off a right jab that floored Kikuno, who’s head bounced back off the canvas when he hit it.
After working a D’arce choke, Ferguson (15-3) released the hold and stood up. From there, he knew it was only a matter of time before the fight was over and in his favor.
“I wanted to slow him down (with the choke),” he said. “I could hear his heart beat. I made sure when we came up, I put my hands in his face.”
Ferguson did just that, picking Kikuno apart on the feet. He was able to execute his offense perfectly, winning for the second time since a 2012 loss to Michael Johnson via decision.
Along with a submission victory vs. Mike Rio, Ferguson has also finished Aaron Riley and Ramsey Nijem, while he picked up a decision against Uves Edwards.
“I just had to keep pushing forward,” Ferguson said. “I tried to hit some interesting things. I saw he was bringing the pressure and I knew I could dish back twice as hard.”
Ferguson, who trains out of California and is a former NCAA Div. II wrestler, expressed his desire to earn his brown belt with his latest performance.
Kikuno (22-6-2) was making his second appearance with the UFC. He has won 12 fights via knockout, but this was his first knockout victory. He had been submitted once before in 30 fights.