Justin Gaethje Seizes Tony Ferguson's Chance At Title Fight
Photo: CBS Sports
At the UFC 249's Exciting Main Event, an explosive fight marked the conclusion of a long-awaited UFC event amid a drought of sporting events & shows the MMA spirit lives on no matter the circumstances.
Despite delays and cancellations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, UFC has managed to deliver some captivating fights. One of the most intense, albeit one-sided, event has been between Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson.
Justin "The Highlight" Gaethje defeated Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson for the lightweight Interim Championship belt by way of TKO. From what appeared to be a fairly even first round between the fighters, the title fight turned into a lopsided brawl. Ferguson, who had a 12-fight win streak prior to this event and was the #1 contender for the championship belt, was upset by Gaethje.
In the first round, Gaethje and Ferguson began slowly and carefully. Gaethje started tossing out large power punches, heavy leg kicks and Ferguson responded in kind.
In the next round, Gaethje began to find his groove and landed several significant left hooks on Ferguson, interspersed with kicks to the legs. Towards the end of the round, Ferguson dropped Gaethje to the canvas with a perfectly landed uppercut. The bell then saved Gaethje.
Gaethje recovered quickly and continued his onslaught, landing devastating hits to Ferguson's face, causing cuts and substantial swelling around his left eye. Ferguson managed to hang on and responded with several strikes, with only a few landings.
The fourth round was where Ferguson's damage began to show. Ferguson began to wobble, and his legs buckled in response to several blows from Gaethje. Undaunted, Ferguson continues to slam Gaethje with hits to the body and swings to the head. Gaethje's hits continued to make their mark upon Ferguson's tired now increasingly bloodied legs and face.
The conclusion of the fight couldn't come soon enough for Ferguson. Gaethje continued his relentless assault, which sent Ferguson stumbling multiple times. It was a jab from Gaethje that marked the end for Ferguson, causing him to stumble backward before referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at the 3:39 mark in the final round.
Gaethje ran his streak up to four, with his next fight will be with the lightweight champion. Gaethje, who upon receiving the interim belt, removed it and tossed it on the ground. Gaethje said, "I'm waiting for the real one."
Gaethje once again put on a performance which, like many of his fights before, won both 'Performance' and 'Fight of the Night.'
Ferguson, who had gone so long without a loss, was disappointed by the stoppage. "I prepared for Khabib, not too much of a striker," he said. "I would've much rather got finished instead of having someone step in in it."
Ferguson put on a somewhat sluggish performance, which was out of character for the seasoned fighter who hasn't had a loss since 2012. The younger Gaethje was able to out strike Ferguson at most exchanges. Praise has to be given to Ferguson for withstanding an absolute barrage of monster hits from Gaethje, "Nobody takes Gaethje's punches like that, nobody I've seen…" said Dana White.
Ferguson originally was meant to face the reigning champ Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, but delays prevented the fight. Ferguson was slated to face Nurmagomedov on April 18, but Nurmagomedov was unable to travel as a result of travel bans due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Written by: Patryk Stepien