Saturday night, UFC 249 marked the return of mixed martial arts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje headlined what many believed to be a "stacked" fight card, but there were several other top bouts. There may not have been fans in attendance for the Jacksonville event, but they still saw a lot of action. Two fighters — Ferguson and Niko Price — even ended their nights in the hospital.
According to TSN Sports, Price was transported to the hospital following his loss by technical knockout to Vicente Luque. He had repeatedly taken hard shots during the second and third rounds, including a left hook that many believed broke his orbital bone. The referee called a stoppage at 3:37 in the third round. Price later posted a photo showing off his "battle wounds" and said that he is "good."
Ferguson also took several hits to the face during his fight with Gaethje. Referee Herb Dean eventually stopped the bout during the fifth and final round, awarding Gaethje the interim lightweight title. Ferguson was taken to a local hospital, where he joined Price in receiving treatment. UFC President Dana White confirmed the news and later said that Ferguson "looked off" during the fight. Although he also said that the fighter "is not human."
"I don't want to take anything away from Gaethje, because he fought an incredible fight," White said during his post-fight press conference. "But I thought Tony looked off tonight. I thought he looked slow, and I would have to imagine that cutting weight twice in a month will affect you. So I don't know if that's it or what. The guy isn't human. He's got a chin. Nobody takes Gaethje's punches like that — nobody I've seen since I've been watching Gaethje fight. But this kid did."
White explained that he had been receiving a lot of messages from retired UFC star Chuck Liddell about how Dean had "stopped the fight too soon," but he disagreed. In his opinion, the stoppage could have happened during an earlier round. White believed that Gaethje was simply doing too much damage to Ferguson.
"Tony took a lot of damage tonight. Not only did he take a lot of damage, he took damage from a guy who f—ing hits like a truck, a guy who hits very hard, and usually knocks people unconscious when he hits people," White said. "So I actually think the stoppage was great, and I think it could have been stopped sooner."