It wasn't the UFC 249 main event that everyone expected or wanted, but Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje was the one a wild world may have needed.
Ferguson was originally slated to face rival Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249 when it was set to take place in April, but as is tradition, the fight was canceled. Due to travel complications from the coronavirus, Khabib vs. Tony was canceled for the fifth time. In steps Justin Gaethje, and a chance for Ferguson to win back an interim Lightweight title that he never lost -- instead being stripped of it after an injury two years ago.
As it happened, Ferguson's eight-plus year winning streak came to an end after a sustained 24-minute beating. But he didn't give up. Ferguson pressed forward despite any obstacles thrown his way -- huge punches, vicious calf kicks, crisp jabs, and delivered plenty of his own along the way. However, referee Herb Dean called a stop to the action in the fifth round when Ferguson repeatedly "shook off" a couple of nasty punches. A rare instance of Ferguson looking human, ironically with an inhuman reaction.
Gaethje turned down the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship after the fight, saying he'd wait for the "real thing." That "real thing," belongs to Nurmagomedov, who didn't seem impressed...well at least initially. Gaethje said he would be proud to represent the United States against Khabib.
No comment.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020
@Justin_Gaethje it was so impressive, congratulations. Very smart fight.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020