Courtesy: UFC on YouTube

FSM: UFC 249 Recap


UFC 249 is finally in the books after a two-month-long odyssey to bring sports back on the airwaves. 


Justin Gaethje ran right through Tony Ferguson in Saturday’s main event to become the new interim lightweight champion and the next to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov in a unification bout later this year.

The five-round affair delivered the violence that was expected from two of the UFC’s most offensive fighters, but what was not expected was for Ferguson’s 7-year unbeaten streak to come to an end in such a brutal, one-sided beatdown. The official time was 3:39 of the 5th round when referee Herb Dean called a stop to the massacre while Ferguson was still on his feet.

The amount of punishment dished out by Gaethje throughout the fight would have been enough to put down any man and knock him out cold. As it turns out, Ferguson proved to be too tough for his own good and sustained the massive barrage of punches for nearly 25 minutes before Dean called an end to it. The main event earned Fight of the Night honors, and Gaethje earned a Performance of the Night bonus as well, making it nine post-fight bonuses in 7 UFC fights for the new interim champion. 

FSM: UFC 249 Recap
Photo Credit: CBSSports

The loss for Ferguson (and a broken orbital) almost certainly puts the final nail in the coffin for the elusive Fight between him and Nurmagomedov. Still, the emergence of Gaethje as the new #1 contender presents another formidable challenge to the current champion. 

Gaethje has come a long way from being the reckless striker who was willing to take punishment to give punishment, and his newly reformed style was on display Saturday. He walked away nearly unscathed after a 5-round fight with another dangerous striker on a 12-fight winning streak. Nurmagomedov is sure to have his hands full against such a powerful striker with an NCAA Division-I All-American wrestling background and now with a more calculated approach to fighting. The UFC hopes to book this fight as soon as possible, and Nurmagomedov says he will be ready by July. 

Where Ferguson goes moving forward will be determined at a later date, but a salute to his accomplishments throughout the years is long overdue. He amassed one of the greatest runs in UFC history and in the company’s most competitive division, no less. Yet an official championship fight has never found its way to him. Although the streak came to a bitter end, Ferguson’s historic run has undoubtedly earned him a spot among the all-time greatest fighters in UFC history. 


In the co-main event, UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo successfully defended his title against the greatest bantamweight of all time, Dominick Cruz.


From the opening bell, Cejudo was aggressive and walked down Cruz, chopping his legs with vicious leg kicks and heavy punches. Cruz, who was coming off the most extended layoff in his career –1,226 days– did not seem to have the same movement ability as in years past. His trademark footwork did not appear to be as sharp as it was in his heyday, and Cejudo marched right in and quickly took the opening round. 

In the second round, Cruz had more offensive output and looked to be getting into a groove, landing solid combinations, and keeping Cejudo’s takedowns to a minimum. But with just seconds left in the round, a failed takedown attempt by Cruz resulted in a knee landed by Cejudo, and the defending champ finished it off with a burst of punches on a dazed Cruz. The referee called a stop to the Fight at 4:58 of the 2nd round. 

In his post-fight Octagon interview, Cejudo surprisingly announced his retirement from MMA, saying he’s accomplished enough in his career and wants to retire on top. The 33-year-old undoubtedly has one of the best resumes in combat sports history, having won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling as well as winning two UFC championships in two divisions and successfully defending both belts.


In the featured bout, Saturday, knockout artists Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik collided in a heavyweight fight.


Photo Credit: MMA Junkie

The expectations were high that this fight would end in a knockout, and it took just 20 seconds for Ngannou to deliver on that promise. He landed a lethal left hook that crumpled Rozenstruik’s legs from under him and offered a handful of extra punches on the ground before the referee called an end to the fight. 

Although a heavyweight championship fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier is still in the works, Ngannou undoubtedly made a statement as the next contender for the heavyweight title. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak, all of them first-round knockouts. 



Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens fought at a catchweight of 150.5 lbs after Stephens failed to make the featherweight limit Friday.


The two met in the center of the Octagon and traded leather in a fun back-and-forth brawl. Midway through the 2nd round, Kattar landed a powerful short elbow that sent Stephens to the canvas and followed that up with a rain of unanswered punches that sealed the TKO victory at 2:42. 

The win was an excellent bounce-back performance for Kattar, who was coming off a unanimous decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov last November. He has won 4 of his last six fights, all by knockout, and will surely move up the top-10 rankings with the knockout over #7-ranked Stephens

Stephens, on the other hand, continues his winless streak in the featherweight division, having not won a fight since February of 2018 when he knocked out Josh Emmett. He continues to produce exciting matches in the UFC, including Saturday’s performance, which could have gotten the nod for Fight of the Night honors, were it not for the main event fight. Still, it was not a good weekend for Stephens, making it five consecutive matches without a win and missing weight by 4.5 pounds to boot. 


The featured Fight on the ESPN prelims was a rematch between fan favorites Anthony Pettis and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. 


Their first Fight in 2013 was full of trash talking and bad blood. Pettis scored a 1st round TKO victory that night with a vicious kick to the body that sent Cowboy to the canvas wincing in pain. That victory earned Pettis a shot at the lightweight championship, which he would go on to win against Benson Henderson later that year. 

Photo Credit: MMA Junkie

Seven years later, the bad blood was gone, and the two former lightweights met again, only now in the welterweight division. The rematch was much closer this time around, but Pettis still came out the victor with a unanimous decision nod. Cowboy has been looking to right the ship after consecutive losses to Ferguson and Gaethje in the lightweight division last year. He moved back to welterweight for a fight against Conor McGregor in January but was TKO’d in the blink of an eye. He was gunning for a return fight as soon as possible and drew Pettis’ name, but the loss Saturday extended the losing streak to four for Cowboy

Pettis was also in desperate need of a win Saturday after coming up short in his last two fights and bouncing between the lightweight and welterweight divisions. The back-and-forth fight with Cowboy was a close one, but Pettis managed to edge him out in the last two rounds. 


In the heavyweight division, former champion Fabricio Werdum came back from a two-year layoff to fight.


Oleinik came out like a battering ram and landed several heavy punches that dazed Werdum early. Werdum managed to weather the storm, however, and was able to bring the fight to a gassed out Oleinik in round 2, threatening the armbar on several occasions. By the 3rd round, both fighters were diminished but looked for the finish until the final buzzer. The judges scored a split decision for Oleinik in a fight that could have gone either way. 

Saturday’s UFC event was just the first of four planned shows in the next two weeks. They will make a quick turnaround and put on another show in Jacksonville Wednesday headlined by light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Dana White delivered on his promise to be the first major sports back during the pandemic. 


The UFC is finally back. Oh, how we’ve missed you!

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-Leo Schauer – Franchise Sports Media

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