UFC President Dana White has been trying for weeks to host UFC 249, and he finally got his chance on Saturday night. Even though the event took place in an empty arena, there was a large viewing audience to watch one of the best fight cards of all time.
The event was held as a Pay-Per-View event that was streamed through ESPN+, and it finally gave sportsbooks in the United States a live sporting event to take bets on. President Donald Trump even submitted a video message that was aired during the broadcast, thanking White and the UFC for bringing sports back to the United States.
Gaethje Dominates Ferguson
The main bout of the night featured Tony Ferguson taking on Justin Gaethje in an interim lightweight title bout. Ferguson was supposed to be taking on Khabib Nurmamodogev in a title fight at UFC 249, but Gaethje was chosen as a replacement.
Ferguson probably wishes that White would have picked a different replacement, as he was beaten and battered by Gaethje throughout the fight. Gaethje won the fight by TKO at the 3:39 mark of the fifth round.
This fight was being billed as one of the most exciting fights in recent memory, as both fighters are extremely aggressive. That was the case on Saturday night, but it was Gaethje that was delivering the most blows.
Ferguson was seen as the top challenger to Khabib in the lightweight division, while Gaethje was the sixth-ranked contender. Gaethje was a major underdog in the fight, but his win will likely earn him a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.
White awarded Gaethje with an interim lightweight belt after winning the fight, but the fighter quickly threw the belt to the mat. He announced to the live television audience that he would wait for the real belt in reference to his upcoming title bout.
Cejudo Wins, Announces Retirement
Henry Cejudo was defending his bantamweight title belt against Dominick Cruz in another highly anticipated match on the fight card. Cejudo made quick work of Cruz, winning the fight by TKO early in the second round.
The major surprise came after the fight was over when Cejudo announced that he was retiring from MMA to spend more time with his family. His retirement will mark a huge hole in the sport, as Cejudo is one of the best mixed martial arts fighters of all time.
The Olympic gold medal wrestler is a two-weight champion in UFC, but there were some question marks surrounding him before this fight. Cejudo was listed as the favorite over Cruz, but he hadn’t fought in more than 1,200 days.
White told ESPN that he wasn’t shocked by the announcement from Cejudo as the fighter has been hinting at retirement for several months.
Postfight Interviews Held in Octagon
One of the biggest surprises at UFC 249 was that the postfight interviews were held inside of the Octagon, a move that was questioned by many. UFC originally announced that fighters would be taken to a secure location for the interviews, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday night.
UFC color commentator Joe Rogan made his way to the Octagon after the conclusion of every fight, which is his normal routine. This was expected to change this time around as the UFC was making postfight interviews safer as a way to follow health and safety protocols.
Many fight personnel were wearing masks and other personal protective equipment in an effort to remain safe, but that wasn’t the case for Rogan. Rogan entered the ring without a mask on and was seen shaking hands and congratulating several of the winning fighters.