Justin Gaethje dominated Tony Ferguson in their UFC 249 main event in Jacksonville, Florida en route to being crowned UFC interim-lightweight champion.
However, Gaethje promptly removed his first UFC strap moments after the win announcing that he would only accept the real title which is currently held by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Gaethje def. Tony Ferguson, TKO (Punches), 3:39 R5
Ferguson v Gaethje was a sick fight.
Impeccable performance by Justin Gaethje but Tony took it beyond what is normal to take.
Tony's 12-game winning streak ended, Gaethje now takes 4 in a row.#UFC249pic.twitter.com/nyCVK82uaP
— Jose Andrade (@JoseAndrade5818) May 10, 2020
In an eery and empty arena containing only a skeleton broadcast crew, a handful of media, coaches and athletic commission officials, it was the performance of Gaethje’s career as he dominated Ferguson from start to finish en route to a fifth-round TKO stoppage and in the process snap El Cucuy’s 12-fight win streak.
In truth, lesser men would have wilted long before the final round as Gaethje picked about the pre-fight favourite with Ferguson’s only moment of joy coming at the end of the second round when he floored Gaethje with a cracking uppercut.
Following the biggest win of his career, Gaethje promptly removed the belt wrapped around his waist and when asked why he had done so, the American replied that he “wanted the real thing.”
Justin Gaethje tossed aside the interim lightweight title belt he won at #UFC249
"I'll wait for the real one." pic.twitter.com/GBxD1RUemj
— ESPN (@espn) May 10, 2020
Nurmagomedov took to Twitter immediately after to reply “no comment” before congratulation Gaethje on a career-defining performance. However, it is difficult not to feel for Ferguson whose 12-fight win streak, the longest in the UFC’s most competitive division, was snapped before he’d even fought for the lightweight title outright. The loss may also put to bed any chance of fans ever getting to see him take on Nurmagomedov, a fight that has now fallen through five times.
The event proved to be a huge source of controversy, firstly because it was staged in the middle of an ongoing pandemic and secondly because it went ahead despite Jacare Souza testing positive for Covid-19 just 24 hours out from his fight with Uriah Hall. However, it was easy to forget the bizarre circumstances with which this event took place given how captivating the main event was.
"You get one life and I'm living a crazy one and it's so awesome. I can't wait for that challenge (fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov) win or lose, don't care, I'm going to give it 100 % that's all I ever do." –@Justin_Gaethje reacts to winning the interim @UFC lightweight belt #UFC249 pic.twitter.com/wlRIqCOR00
— UFC News (@UFCNews) May 10, 2020
In the end, it was Gaethje’s night and the American will now go on to face Nurmagomedov whenever normality resumes once again.