Justin Gaethje produced a brutal display in a final-round stoppage against Tony Ferguson to become the new interim lightweight champion at the highly anticipated UFC 249.
UFC made its long-awaited return behind closed doors in Jacksonville amid coronavirus loackdown, Florida on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ferguson was initially due to face unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in Brooklyn on April 18, but travel restrictions prevented the Russian star from fighting in the United States.
Gaethje stepped up to meet fellow American Ferguson in the octagon and he dished out relentless punishment to stun the former interim holder in a wild contest.
Ferguson, who came into the fight on a 12-win streak, suffered damage as Gaethje chopped at his legs and landed thunderous hooks before referee Herb Dean stepped in to end the fight late in the fifth round.
Ferguson was left bloodied and bruised as a jab to the head shocked the veteran, prompting the referee to crown Gaethje winner by TKO in the fifth round.
Henry Cejudo announced his shock retirement after retaining his bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz.
Cejudo (16-2) scored a contentious second-round TKO over two-time former titleholder Cruz (22-3), who tried to survive a barrage of punches.
The co-main event was stopped at 4:50 of the second round before ex-flyweight champion Cejudo surprisingly called time on his UFC career.
Greg Hardy wins the opening fight of Saturday’s UFC 249 pay-per-view card over Yorgan De Castro by unanimous decision. He got an assist from ringside announcer Daniel Cormier in the process.
Despite the absence of a crowd, the fights themselves lacked nothing in intensity, with Francis Ngannou scoring the knockout of the night, blitzing Jairzinho Rozenstruik with a left hook to force a stoppage after just 20 seconds of the first round.