After Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson was cancelled for the fifth time in five years, and Justin Gaethje agreed to step in to fight "El Cucuy" in the main event of UFC 249 for the Interim Lightweight Championship, there was one resounding fear that plagued all mixed martial arts fans - Dana White included, as he told me earlier in the week - and that was Justin Gaethje winning the fight, which would potentially ruin any hope of ever seeing the Khabib/Tony superfight.
After all, the intrigue of that fight was each fighter's undefeated streak, and this fight promised the winner #1 contendership.
Tonight, those fears became a reality when Justin Gaethje stepped into that cage like a man possessed and put on one of the greatest performances in UFC Championship history.
Gaethje just appeared to be ahead of Tony Ferguson every step of the way. He was the faster man, he was landing cleaner shots, he was controlling the octagon perfectly, he was controlling his composure like I've never seen before, and aside from a quick slip up at the end of Round 2 where he got caught - he was nearly flawless. It was undoubtedly the best he's ever looked.
Khabib wouldn't even provide comment afterwards....
I don't know why. Like Bisping said...you kind of have to comment.
Oh wait, as I was writing this, he just provided comment….
Alright ya weirdo. Shoulda just said that in the first place.
Unless that was Ali on your Twitter again?
I don't want you to get the impression that Tony Ferguson just stood there and ate shot after shot like a bum, though.
El Cucuy marched forward until the very end, even arguing with Herb Dean about the (truly necessary) stoppage, and displayed as much heart as any fighter ever has in the octagon. I'd say the biggest narrative from the whole main event was how much he walked through - everything AND the kitchen sink! He was shockingly well spoken in the cage afterwards, too, after he regained his composure, that is….
At first, he shoved Gaethje away from him after the fight, and Justin told him that being an asshole wouldn't get him anywhere in life….
Pretty legendary line - especially when you're saying that to a guy you just beat up. They made up afterwards, though, and I think Ferguson apologized.
Gaethje tossed the Interim title to the side, then…
…because he don't want that shit. He wants Khabib. He wants to represent the United States against Russia in a 'ROCKY IV' style fight. That's literally his dream and all he's been talking about for the past month. Sounds kinda awesome.
Does he actually get Khabib from here? Does the UFC try to set up Gaethje vs McGregor first? Could McGregor possibly fight Tony now, and maybe the winner of that gets the winner of Khabib/Gaethje? Could McGregor actually just wanna complete the trilogy with Nate Diaz on Fight Island and wait to see everything in the title picture play out? I've got no idea!
Tremendous night of fights, though, and I'm just so glad that the UFC pulled this off! I had a blast talking about this card with you guys, and if you were a new viewer, I hope you had a good time! I also hope my blogs helped ya out a bit. We'd love to have you back for Fight Night on Wednesday…and again next Saturday!
I'll leave you with these insane stats from the last time Tony Ferguson last a fight before tonight….
Crazy to think about. Goodnight everyone!