UFC 249 Recap: Results, Highlights, Analysis

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Interim Lightweight Championship fight: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje – 12:33am ET

FINAL: Justin Gaethje defeats Tony Ferguson by TKO.

ROUND 5: Gaethje fought an extremely smart fifth round, crushing Ferguson to the point where a referee stoppage was needed to end the fight.

It is not a surprise that Gaethje won the fight, but it is shocking that he would dominate the fight for 24 minutes.

Gaethje is the new interim Lightweight Champion with a fight of the night performance.

ROUND 4: Ferguson continues to absorb outrageous pressure. The conventional wisdom would have been to think Ferguson would shine in the championship rounds, but the fourth round also belonged to Gaethje. Can he finish Ferguson in the fifth round? A comeback by Ferguson would be incredible, especially following these tremendous first four rounds.

ROUND 3: Despite the onslaught from Gaethje, Ferguson continues to withstand the pressure. A serious concern has developed swelling under Ferguson’s right eye.

Gaethje is just delivering power rights, and Ferguson has no answer. Somehow, Ferguson is still ready for more, but the first three rounds all belonged to Gaethje.

ROUND 2: Ferguson is still seeking a point of entry, and he is playing with fire by eating some incredible shots from Gaethje. Is it possible Ferguson is looking to wear out Gaethje over a five-round fight? The amount of shots Ferguson is absorbing is absurd. But the end of the round ended with Ferguson delivering a vicious shot to Gaethje’s chin.

ROUND 1: Gaethje delivered a fantastic opening round, hitting Ferguson with fast, clean shots. Ferguson also took a thumb to the eye, which the referee apparently did not notice, but the round belonged to Gaethje.

Bantamweight Championship fight: Champion Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz – 11:58pm ET

FINAL: Henry Cejudo defeats Dominick Cruz by TKO.

ROUND 2: The most controversial moment of the night took place in the second round as referee stoppage cut Cejudo-Cruz short. Cejudo hit Cruz with a brutal knee, then 10 more shots, but Cruz was standing up when the referee stopped the fight and awarded the win to Cejudo by TKO.

Following the win, a jubilant Cejudo announced his retirement in the Octagon. Behind him, Cruz seethed, pleading his case to Dana White. Cruz was certainly hurt, and the knee that Cejudo delivered was perfectly placed, but that was nothing short of a terrible shortage.

It is impossible to say what would have happened in the remainder of the title fight, as Cejudo was winning. But this win is tainted, coming with an asterisk following a premature stoppage.

ROUND 1: Cejudo is looking to chop away at Cruz, but the opening round was mostly about two greats feeling each other out. Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist and a UFC champion in two different divisions, and he wants to be the greatest combat fighter of all-time. In order to do that, he’ll need this win.

Heavyweight fight: Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – 11:30pm ET

FINAL: Francis Ngannou defeats Jairzinho Rozenstruik by knockout.

ROUND 1: A battle between these knockout artists was not expected to last long.

And it didn’t.

Rozenstruik called out Ngannou for a fight, which are words he would love to have back. Ngannou (15-3) knocked out Rozenstruik (10-1) in only 20 seconds.

Ngannou now waits for the winner of the Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier fight for the Heavyweight Championship, likely to happen later this summer. Neither Miocic, who has defeated Ngannou, nor Cormier can be excited about that matchup.

Catchweight fight: Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens – 10:58pm ET

FINAL: Calvin Kattar defeats Jeremy Stephens by knockout.

ROUND 2: Halfway through the second round, Kattar rocked Stephens with a ferocious right elbow, and then pummeled him on the mat.

Swelling on Stephens’ left leg forced him to change stances, and Kattar continued to develop a well-balanced attack, especially with his boxing combinations.

Kattar (21-4) felt extremely disrespected by Stephens (28-18, 1 NC) coming in nearly five pounds overweight, but he certainly feels vindicated with that knockout victory.

ROUND 1: Stephens missed weight by four-and-a-half pounds, but started off faster than Kattar.

Kattar’s patience will be a strength if he can withstand Stephens’ attack on his legs. Kattar landed a long, straight right hand with 30 seconds left in the fight, the most effective single blow in a very competitive opening round.

Heavyweight fight: Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro – 10:23pm ET

FINAL: Greg Hardy defeats Yorgan de Castro by unanimous decision.

The win builds some momentum for Hardy (6-2, 1 NC) and ends the undefeated run for de Castro (6-1). The fight turned after de Castro injured his toe in the second round, but it was a tough opening act for a major card. If his name were not Greg Hardy, the former NFL player would not be in the UFC.

ROUND 3: Hardy starting to build momentum with his outside leg kick. But de Castro is finally feeling comfortable enough to kick with his right foot, though he likely suffered a broken toe last round. Surprisingly, Hardy has outworked de Castro. Ever since the first round it, de Castro has suffered from an extreme lack of activity. This fight is destined to end up in the hands of the judges, but Hardy pushed the action and the judges are likely to reward it.

ROUND 2: One of de Castro’s kicks just missed connecting, bothering his right foot and completely changing the complexion of the second round. Hardy has capitalized.

ROUND 1: The fight opened with de Castro attacking Hardy. Both fighters got in some good strikes throughout the round, but the difference were the de Castro kicks to Hardy’s left leg. That shin-to-thigh punishment has left a massive bruise, and Hardy has no answer for those leg kicks entering the second round.

On a night filled with question marks, there is one certainty: the UFC is back.

Amidst serious COVID-19 concerns, UFC 249 took place live at the empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The fight pitting Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza against Uriah Hall fight was called off on Friday when Souza tested positive for COVID-19, igniting more questions as to whether the card should be taking place.

The viewing experience of an empty-arena stadium is not that odd, as the camera is focused on the Octagon, but it is certainly odd not to hear a crowd react to big blows. There are some positives, which include the ability to listen to the corner calls and hear the strikes. Plus, there is a chance for a little creativity, like Sam Alvey did in the early prelims, high-fiving a non-existent crowd before his fight against Ryan Spann. For a sports audience that is desperately craving live sports, UFC 249 came at a perfect time.