UFC 249: Gaethje Punishes Ferguson, Wins Interim Gold

A last-minute replacement, Justin Gaethje was excited about the idea of getting into a violent fight against Tony Ferguson. What nobody expected, however, was for only Ferguson (25-4)  to sustain a significant amount of damage and Gaethje (22-2) coming out of UFC 249 unscathed.

Inside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, Gaethje took out Ferguson via TKO to win the interim UFC Lightweight Title. It took five rounds, but the referee in charge saw that enough was being done to Ferguson to end the fight. He decided to call it off with 3:39 left in the round.

Ferguson started the contest hot right away with strikes and superman punches. Gaethje, however, tested the chin of Ferguson and then some.  He landed huge rights and would follow with thunderous left hooks. “The Highlight” would continue that approach throughout the contest. The round ended abruptly as Gaethje apologized for an accidental eye poke.

From there, Gaethje would continue to attack Ferguson, who despite looking like he was in pain kept on going. Gaethje avoided a spinning elbow, one he believed would break his nose, and continued to land left hooks. By the third round, Ferguson had cuts above and below both of his eyes. Gaethje’s left hooks were loud, as you could hear every shot coming through the crowd-less arena. Ferguson tried a comeback in round four, but his leg was buckling due to Gaethje attacking the lower body as well.

At one point, Gaethje hit Ferguson’s leg with a hook. Round five saw combination shots, each worse than the last. Ferguson would end up shaking his head as blood was flowing, and the referee saw enough after all that time.

Following the bout, Gaethje threw down the interim belt, showing he was ready to face UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is currently stuck in Russia.

“I’ll wait for the real one,” Gaethje stated. “Khabib is the best in the world. I’ve been working since I was 4 [years old] for challenges like this and I’m happy to represent the United States of America against Dagestan or Russia’s best.

“He’s 28-0 and there’s no other challenge I want right now. I want to fight him.”

It is unknown what is next for Ferguson, who cut weight twice before the main event. One can imagine that a fight with Khabib will be delayed once again until further notice.

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