Tony Ferguson has been rushed to hospital following his shock defeat to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249.
El Cucuy, who entered this fight on a 12-match winning streak, was left a battered mess as he forfeited the chance to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov.
According to reports, Ferguson suffered a fractured orbital bone early in the fight. UFC Stats show he was made to feel more than 100 significant strikes to his head before the fight was finally stopped in the fifth round.
Ferguson, who had not lost since 2012, had been scheduled to face the undefeated Russian for the lightweight title five times, The Sun reports.
And the American was the heavy favourite to win the interim belt against Gaethje after the coronavirus pandemic forced Khabib to pull out.
But Ferguson was outfought and dominated against his underdog opponent who landed thunderous hooks on the way to referee Herb Dean stopping the bout in the fifth round.
UFC president Dana White later confirmed that the 36-year-old and Niko Price had gone to hospital after their respective defeats.
He added: “I thought Tony Ferguson looked off tonight. He looked slow.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson, who initially refused to embrace Gaethje after the fight, later admitted that he had suffered from preparing for Khabib.
He said: “It was a long camp.
“The weight cut had nothing to do with it. Justin’s a tough son of a b****, I’ll be real.
“I prepared for Khabib; not too much of a striker. But s*** happens, man. What can you do? I would’ve much rather got finished instead of having somebody step in.”
He added: “Let’s go back and get it on, you now what I mean? The consolation round you have to win back. Props to Justin, like I said, and his team; tough son of a b***h. Thank you for taking the fight.”
UFC 249 was held behind closed doors in Jacksonville, Florida, as the globe is ravaged by the coronavirus crisis.
Elsewhere on the card, Henry Cejudo announced his shock retirement after his controversial win over Dominick Cruz while Francis Ngannou knocked out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds.
The event earned praise from US president Donald Trump, who urged sport leagues to return after sending his congratulations to Dana White.
— This story originally appeared on thesun.co.uk and has been republished with permission