Eddie Bravo describes cold feet while coaching Tony Ferguson at UFC 249: ‘I wasn’t ready for it’

Tony Ferguson absorbed plenty of punishment throughout his interim lightweight title fight with Justin Gaethje, but it wasn’t until after the fourth round that Eddie Bravo realized his guy was in trouble.

At that moment, Bravo got the surprise of his life.

“Right when the bell rung after the fourth round, Rashad (Holloway) turns around and goes, ‘Eddie, get in there.’ I wasn’t ready for it,” Bravo said on this week’s episode of the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. “I wasn’t ready to walk in there.”

Bravo, a renowned jiu-jitsu coach, was one of three men in Ferguson’s corner at UFC 249. But he did not envision himself having to talk Ferguson into rallying to win a fight he was clearly losing heading into the fifth round.

“So I walked in there going, ‘What the f*ck? I’m not an MMA head coach,’” Bravo said. “This is the fourth round, he’s hurt, and plus, my car got broken into last week. They stole my glasses. I need my glasses; I’m pretty blind. So I didn’t realize how cut up he was until I walked up to him. OK, I’m supposed to give him advice? This wide receiver coach. It was a mistake for me to go in there. It was a mistake.”

Ferguson went on to lose by TKO in the fifth round.

Bravo and Ferguson long have had a close relationship. Bravo joined Ferguson’s camp for UFC 249 while he was scheduled to challenge lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on April 18. The thought was simple: Bravo would polish Ferguson’s ground game in preparation for Nurmagomoedov’s wrestling-heavy attack.

But that fight fell off two weeks prior to its original date because of the global coronavirus pandemic. In came Gaethje, who presented a different challenge from Nurmagomedov with his stand-and-trade approach.

Bravo, however, remained part of the camp and made the trip to Jacksonville, Fla., to be in Ferguson’s corner. Bravo was comfortable in the background and never imagined being thrust into the spotlight.

“I have never been a head MMA coach ever in my life,” Bravo said. “Never wanted to be. Never wanted to be and even to this day, I’ve never been … that’s not me. I’m not Trevor Wittman; that guy’s amazing. I’m not a Greg Jackson, Duke Roufus. That’s a whole ‘nother level. Head coach, that’s a guy that should be talking to the fighter that’s sitting down.

“I’m the wide receiver coach. I’m the guy that just throws in s*it on the side. Especially in a stand-up fight, I shouldn’t have been mic’d, because I knew this was gonna be a stand-up fight. If the fight was gonna go to the ground, if it was the Khabib (Nurmagomedov) fight, yeah, maybe there’s gonna be a lot of ground work. Maybe it makes sense for television to mic me. But when they were mic’ing me up, I’m like, I’m just there for emotional support because it’s gonna be a stand-up war.”

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