Even with a nine-fight lightweight win streak, ‘El Cucuy’ has aspirations of UFC gold in more than one weight class.

What do you envisage for 2017?

I see amazing fun things. I see a belt, shiny brand new f**king belt. Lightweight, of course. Then I’ll be on my way to some other adventures, whether it be featherweight, welterweight.

Lightweight is great but I’ve ventured to different weight classes before in my career and at the last weigh-in I made 153lb. I’d be curious to see what 145 would offer me.

I don’t think that weight cut would be hard if I did it right. I’m pretty confident I can do damage anywhere. 2016 will go out with a bang and I’m happy with it.

Hopefully we’ve broken some records. First lightweight in history to get nine in a row. That’s a pretty big record, pretty cool.

What do you want to achieve inside and outside the Octagon?

I want to achieve greatness, obviously. I want to keep going forward and be the pound-for-pound champion of the world.

Outside? Giving back to a lot of up-and-coming fighters.

These up-and-coming wrestlers. I want them to have opportunities like I never had. I’d like to be a great and experienced coach.

Do you love your ears?

I f**king love my ears. They are the best attribute I’ve ever had. It’s the best medal of honor martial arts has ever given me.

You can’t go through the grocery aisle without being asked about cauliflower.

What do you do to relax?

More than anything else I just enjoy the holidays. My two favorite things are my family and fighting. I’ll pick my boy up and we shadow box. I have him in my arms and I start shadowboxing. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do because it’s not just me, I’m doing it with my son. He cracks up and thinks it’s funny. I’ve got a full facility in my spot. He cracks up when he sees himself in the mirror. Only until you have kids do you understand. I’m a fighter so I have to have that switch between fighter and father. You have to be that gentle giant, that cool dude.

Do you have to be obsessed to be a fighter?

You can be. Certain fighters have to have some sort of obsession. Some say they have an obsession for it. But once you get obsessed you kind of get lost in it. You forget how to be human. I’ve never gotten obsessed because that’s when I would have got a big head and got lost. I would have made it to the belt really quick and lost it just as fast. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m going to take my time with it and enjoy my family and enjoy my time. This is awesome. I’m doing something I love.

What do you drive?

I drive a Challenger. I’m due an upgrade. I heard the Barracuda is coming out. I like American muscle cars, personally.

I’m old fashioned, a classic kind of person. I had a Harley in 2015 but then I gave it to Cars for Kids. I wasn’t riding it. It was more of a trophy. I felt it should go to something better.

Where in the world would you most like to visit and travel?

South America, probably. Chile, Argentina. More than anything else it’s a different location, a part of the globe I’ve never been to.

I’ve been to Mexico City, which is pretty cool. For sure I’ll keep venturing. Japan would be dope. The culture out there is amazing. You hear so many great things about the culture...

Can you hear my dogs in the background? One of them is snoring.

Are some fights bigger than others?

No. All fights are big. I train for every single fight like it’s a title fight. I always pay attention to the small details because the smallest of details make the biggest difference. You can’t get caught slipping.

What’s your fighting philosophy?

I’m an artist and that canvas is my mural. I’m painting a picture for absolutely everybody. They can all feel what I’m feeling because I wear it on my sleeve. My attitude and the way I speak and present myself might be a little bit off but I do it on purpose.

If people think I don’t know anything, I let them think I’m stupid.

Go ahead. I’m a f**king genius. Inside and outside, I calculate it all. I do it only because it’s creativity for me and it’s an imaginative sport. A man who doesn’t have imagination has no wings.

What drives you?

Pride. It’s not about the money, it’s about pride. It’s about going out there and doing my best and bettering myself every single day.

If I’m not doing that outside the Octagon, I’m not going to do that inside the Octagon. I’m an inspiring individual. I don’t believe that there will ever be a complete fighter.

I think that’s my best attribute – I stay hungry. I’m a student of the game and I’m always picking up new things.

McGregor. What are your honest thoughts on the champion?

McNuggets? Honestly, he’s lucky to even be in my division. I’d go down to 145lb and beat his ass and I’d go to 170lb and do the same thing. If everybody’s lucky, I’ll go to 185. I have the frame for it.

The dude doesn’t meet my standards. He’s a two-trick pony. You need to bring a lot more to the table. He’s only a blue belt in jiu-jitsu. What Nate did to him, being number five in the world, can you imagine what a number two or three would do? I’d beat him to a pulp.

The dude doesn’t want any part of me. These guys do not mention my name.

They’re not calling me out like Candyman. If you say my name three times, I’ll be right there. Conor hasn’t even said my name once because he knows.

We met one time and we squared up and he tried to puff his chest up like he was King Kong. But he had to prove something against me. That’s how it’s always been my whole life.

Every time someone has presented themselves like that to me, I always beat that ass.

What’s your best attribute?

Being able to be coachable. Nobody is holding my hand and getting me up in the morning to go running. I inspire my team to go running in the morning. It could be two o’clock in the morning. I don’t have anyone holding my hand to go in the sauna or hot tub.

I’m earning this s**t every single step of the way. I’m not a head case but when I get inside my own zone there’s nothing that will break my focus. I’m stubborn, man, very stubborn.

You are ‘El Cucuy’ – The Ghost, The Bogeyman – but how did that come about as a fighting sobriquet?

One of my old trainers gave me that nickname. He saw how intense I was.

El Cucuy is the scariest thing in your imagination. It’s not just one type of nightmare. He’s all of the nightmares. I present that same thing inside the Octagon.

You ask any one of my opponents. When I get hit and just keep pushing forward, I see fear in their eyes like they want to quit or climb over that cage wall. I just keep going. I put pressure on them. I make them want to quit.

I almost make them want to put themselves inside a stranglehold or a D’Arce choke. I’m choking necks and cashing checks every single time I step inside that Octagon and I won’t quit anytime soon.

How would you want to be remembered on your tombstone?

As the world’s greatest, pound-for-pound. Always going for it and always giving back.

Tony Ferguson: By the numbers

  • 12-1: The best UFC record of any TUF contestant
  • 199 Sig. strikes landed vs. Rafael dos Anjos was the second most in a 155lb fight
  • 3: The only man to have a trio of UFC wins by D’Arce choke.
  • 77% Victories that have ended with a stoppage.
  • 8 UFC performance bonuses.
  • 5 Bonuses in his last six fights.