Justin Gaethje produced the acceptable efficiency of his profession to construct Tony Ferguson and interact the UFC meantime lightweight title at UFC 249.
The event used to be held within the abet of closed doors in Jacksonville, Florida, after the world coronavirus pandemic compelled plenty of changes to the card and venue.
Undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov used to be at the initiating achieve to face Ferguson on 18 April in Brooklyn, but the coronavirus outbreak compelled the event to be moved, and the UFC’s strive to preserve the expose on tribal land in Lemoore, California, used to be halted after broadcast accomplice ESPN and parent company Disney intervened.
At final, it used to be moved to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, where itturned the first principal US sporting eventto happen since March.
Bigger than 77,000 other folks salvage now died with Covid-19 within the USA and there are 1.2 million confirmed cases – each and each figures the absolute best within the world.
Brazilian middleweight Jacare Souza and his two cornermen examined sure for coronavirus on the eve of the event and were withdrawn.
On the night time there were strict effectively being and safety protocols in plan. The referees, commentators and event workers wore face masks and finest one cornerman per fighter used to be allowed into the cage between rounds.
Without the crowd, fighters stated they’ll additionally hear the commentators.
Heavyweight Greg Hardy stated he used to be in a plan to dangle the advice of commentator Daniel Cormier as he beat Yorgan de Castro.
“Thank God for now not having the crowd,” Hardy stated in his post-fight interview. “Bawl out to DC. I heard him repeat me to appear at him, so I started seeking to appear at him. Sport changer.”
Carla Esparza, who beat Michelle Waterson, stated she heard Cormier’s criticism of her and altered her approach all the scheme in which throughout the fight.
Followers watching at dwelling commented on how noisy and “monstrous” the punches sounded in an empty enviornment.
‘I will discontinuance up for the real one’ – Gaethje after victory
While the night time saw a host of thrilling fights, all eyes were on the principal event between American citizens Gaethje and Ferguson, with the winner achieve to transfer on to Nurmagomedov later this 12 months.
Gaethje, 31, stepped in to face Ferguson at the initiating of April, and took his chance with a peaceable, restful exclaim to salvage interaction the belt and achieve himself up for a shot on the Russian champion.
Gaethje started beautifully and settled into his work within the first two rounds, but used to be dropped by an immense Ferguson uppercut within the closing seconds of round two.
Undeterred, Gaethje persevered to join with extremely effective photos as Ferguson maintained his ahead stress and achieve the damaged-down meantime champion on wobbly legs with a large punch early in round four.
By that level, Gaethje’s stable, ultimate punches had started to dangle their toll on a bloodied and bruised Ferguson, and when a stiff jab compelled Ferguson backwards, halfway throughout the fifth and final round, referee Herb Dean stepped in to discontinuance the contest.
It saw Gaethje awarded the meantime lightweight belt, but he waved it away, announcing he’s searching ahead to the “real thing”, as he laid out his want to dangle on Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout in his subsequent time out.
“Khabib is the acceptable within the world,” he stated.
“I’ve been working since I used to be four for challenges love this, and I’m overjoyed to advise the USA of The US against Dagestan (Khabib’s dwelling field), or Russia’s finest. He is 28-0, and there is no diverse grief I need straight away. I want to fight him.”
Cejudo retains his belt, then retires
The night time’s co-principal event saw 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medallist Henry Cejudo successfully defend his UFC bantamweight title against damaged-down champion Dominick Cruz, then make a surprise announcement as he confirmed his retirement from the sport.
The 33-12 months-faded transitioned to combined martial arts in 2013. His expertise within the extinguish saw him make it to the UFC, where he dethroned all-time sizable Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson to salvage interaction the UFC flyweight title.
Cejudo then moved as a lot as 135 pounds and came from within the abet of to defeat Marlon Moraes to dangle the bantamweight title and change into a UFC ‘champ champ’, but within the extinguish relinquished the flyweight belt to focal level on existence at his fresh weight class.
His first title defence came against damaged-down two-time champion Cruz, who used to be getting back from a three-and-a-half-12 months lay-off in a exclaim to reclaim the title.
It used to be Cejudo whose expertise prevailed on the night time as he countered Cruz’s unorthodox footwork with extremely effective leg kicks and, after an unintended clash of heads compelled the fight into a rapid quit, he linked with an immense knee that dropped Cruz to the mat.
With the damaged-down champion having a inquire to dawdle abet to his toes, Cejudo swarmed his downed opponent and landed 11 unanswered photos to pressure referee Keith Petersen to step in and wave off the fight with true two seconds closing within the round.
After his victory, Cejudo stated: “I’m retiring tonight. I’m 33 years faded, I’m overjoyed with my profession. Uncle Dana (White, UFC president), I want to deliver thank you for every little thing, that you simply need to also be the man. All individuals here, thank you quite a bit.”