Sporting fans have been starved of live competition during the coronavirus lockdown, but UFC 249 offered MMA enthusiasts some enthralling moments on Sunday.
Bryce Mitchell annihilated Charles Rosa in an extremely rare case of a judges’ scorecard finishing 30-24 with all three rounds being awarded to Mitchell as dominant rounds.
Following that, Vicente Luque defeated Niko Price in a staggering encounter, the fight ending in a bloodbath.
Francis Ngannou also demolished Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a stunning 18-second KO during their heavyweight clash.
For the co-main event, Henry Cejudo defeated Dominic Cruz via TKO in the second round, ensuring he kept his UFC bantamweight title, but then retired moments after the belt was wrapped around his waist.
However, the highly-anticipated main card ended with Justin Gaethje becoming the interim lightweight champion after a fifth round TKO win against Tony Ferguson.
In a stunning boilover, Gaethje completely overpowered the 36-year-old in masterful and entertaining display, described by commentator Joe Rogan as the “most amazing performance” of his UFC career.
Early on, momentum continually shifting between the two fighters. Just as Ferguson seemed to briefly get on top of Gaethje in the dying moment of the second round, the 31-year-old hit back hard to dominate the third.
While Gaethje managed a series of forceful jabs to the chin, Ferguson was more successful with his kicks, landing several strikes to the body and thighs.
Despite continually copping blows to the chin during the middle rounds, Ferguson somehow remained standing, leaving commentators and viewers from home in utter disbelief.
“This is crazy … I can’t believe he’s still standing,” cried Rogan.
“How the hell is Tony Ferguson still standing?
“Ferguson is not human; most fighters would be unconscious by now.
“This is a great fight … the fans would be losing their mind.”
However, Ferguson couldn’t last forever, and visibly tired in the last round, his attacks ineffective during the dying minutes. Gaethje took advantage of the bloodied and hurt Ferguson, the fight coming to a close with less than two minutes left on the clock. However, most UFC fighters would not have lasted as long.
“Being an asshole gets you nowhere,” Gatehje bellowed following the bout.
WORLD REACTS TO ‘WEIRD’ UFC ATMOSPHERE
Understandably, no spectators were permitted from attending the event in Jacksonville, creating a surreal atmosphere during the high-intensity bouts.
Typically thousands would be roaring after each blow, but the fighters were oddly capable of hearing each instruction from their trainers along with the live commentary.
Las Vegas musician Charis Kael tweeted, “I’m curious as to how the absence of a crowd inside the arena affects the fighter in regards to the fight itself. A surreal experience either way!”
However, the majority of spectators just seemed relieved there was live sport to indulge after months of waiting, many thanking UFC Dana White for fighting to ensure the event went ahead.