Justin Gaethje shocked the MMA world on Saturday night, absolutely dominating Tony Ferguson from start to finish to win the interim lightweight title at UFC 249. Ferguson's 12-match win streak was stopped cold, as were dreams of finally seeing him matchup with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Gaethje beat his opponent up, consistently landing heavy shots throughout the fight, bloodying Ferguson badly. He flat-out dominated the fight, winning the first four rounds on my card and he was ahead in the fifth. Herb Dean called a stop to the fight at 3:39 in the final round. Despite its one-sided nature, it was an instant classic.
An action fight, Gaethje just got the best of all the exchanges. The 31-year-old displayed incredible power and accuracy throughout the bout. The fight never went to the ground and turned into a striking war early in the second round.
Ferguson ate knockout-level shots from Gaethje all night and somehow managed to stay on his feet. His eyes were both badly bloodied by the end. Dean finally stepped in to stop things when it was clear Ferguson couldn't go on longer.
After the fight, Gaethje immediately called out lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he's likely to get the next shot at the belt.
As for Ferguson, there are plenty of options available to him. A fight with Conor McGregor would excite fans, but a bout with fellow top-contender Dustin Poirier could also be a great fit. We'll see what happens, but the 36-year-old might need some time off after the punishment he took against Gaethje.