Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson faced off in a heated brawl at UFC 249 Saturday night, and it did not go Ferguson's way. Ferguson, who was originally set to face UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at the event, was the favorite to many, but Gaethje came out swinging. He took down Ferguson via TKO 3 minutes, 39 seconds into Round 5, becoming the interim UFC lightweight champion while Nurmagomedov is unable to defend the title due to coronavirus travel limitations. It was a bloody finish that had viewers sound off on Ferguson's tough defeat, including UFC exec Dana White.
"I actually thought the fight should have been stopped sooner," White said after the bout, per ESPN. "Tony took a lot of damage tonight. Not only did he take a lot of damage, it was from a guy who hits like a f—ing truck, a guy who punches very hard and usually knocks people unconscious when he hits them with those shots."
Others were also in awe of how much punishment Ferguson took, sounding off with memes and other remarks on Twitter. Others mourned the presumed permanent loss of the highly anticipated face off against Nurmagomedov, and some simply paid their respects to the 36-year-old fighter.
Justin hit him so hard, Tony didn’t know what the hell was going on for a second. Herb stopped it, Justin by TKO. Hats off to Tony Ferguson who took a beating unlike many men can take. 😁❤️🙌🏼#UFC249 pic.twitter.com/VpQeWojikl— Mario Yamasaki (@refyamasaki) May 10, 2020
That's it. Justin Gaethje via TKO in the fifth round. Tony Ferguson upset, shoves him away when Gaethje tries to hug him. Heartbreak for Ferguson in Jacksonville. Gaethje sky rockets off this. Wow. Bring on Khabib.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 10, 2020
Tony Ferguson, you're a warrior and you'll always be a champion in our hearts regardless of win or loss. Brush it off and come back stronger El Cucuy! People saying Tony Vs Khabib won't happen but I firmly believe that the cursed will be lifted and this match will happen.#UFC249 pic.twitter.com/xkjMPVqyVE— Umair Sikandar (@htumairsikandar) May 10, 2020
Gethje defeats Tony Ferguson for the interm UFC Lightweight Championship.May 10, 2020