Fallout: UFC 249 – Triple C peaces out, Gaethje banishes El Cucuy

FANS rejoiced when the UFC scheduled its return with UFC 249, and they were not disappointed as a stacked card headlined by a pair of intriguing title fights delivered on all its promise.

An empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida set the scene for Justin Gaethje‘s epic dismantling of Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight belt, Henry Cejudo‘s first and (likely) last bantamweight title defence, and a bunch of all-out wars in what was a phenomenal return to the world stage for mixed martial arts.

Check out all the results below including each scorecard, bout-ending sequence, and the expected fallout from a fun night of fights.


Justin Gaethje [IC] def. Tony Ferguson | TKO (punches) | 3:39 Rd 5

Initial thoughts: Man, what a time to end an eight-year win streak.

A new UFC interim lightweight champion of the world was crowned as Gaethje pulled out the performance of his career to snap Ferguson’s previous promotion-wide record 12-fight winning run and clinch gold.

While the new champ delivered on all the violence his previous fights have us expecting, a more mature and focussed approach – aided by brilliant coach Trevor Wittman – enabled Gaethje to banish the ‘Boogeyman’.

Gaethje looked to be in control for most of the fight and in probability had all four rounds in the bag before the finish, but the most glaring warning of his opponent’s threats came as Ferguson landed a flush uppercut near the end of the second round to sit Gaethje on his rear.

But Gaethje would survive, cracking Ferguson with crisp punch combinations up top and landing punishing blows which would spell the end for any lesser a fighter. He never gave the cardio machine that is Ferguson rest, constantly chopping at his legs and doing enough in the end to finally bring about a stoppage.

Fight-ending sequence – A heavy left hand was the straw which finally broke the camel’s back, staggering Ferguson and yielding the finish as he retreated with Herb Dean taking a long look at the action. Good call.

What’s next? – A fight for the undisputed title is surely next for Gaethje, while Ferguson will have to earn his way back once again among a raft of killers at 155-pounds.

Henry Cejudo def. Dominick Cruz | TKO (knee and punches) | 4:58 Rd 2

Initial thoughts: Wait, is he actually serious?

Retiring on top is a difficult thing to both time and achieve, but that is exactly what Cejudo did after defeating the consensus greatest bantamweight of all time, Cruz in a bizarre co-main event.

The King of Cringe instantly vacated the title upon defending it for the first time, although skeptics believe it could well just be a ploy to squeeze more cash out of the UFC throughout contract negotiations.

Cejudo looked comfortable across the cage from another all-time great, though the two men engaged in a few oddly-timed exchanges within the 10 minutes, as the pace, feints, and level changes saw Cejudo cut open via an accidental headbutt in the second round. It fazed him little, as he finished the bout soon after to successfully defend his crown.

Fight-ending sequence – The bout is momentarily stopped as Cejudo is cut open by a headbutt, but he makes good of the remaining 20 seconds with a beautifully timed knee to meet Cruz’s level change, before putting enough pressure on to warrant the stoppage. Cruz didn’t like it, though – seemed like he was about to stand back up.

What’s next? – The 135-pound strap seems to be up for grabs, with Petr Yan a frontrunner to fill one of the title shot spots. Cruz was posed the question of retirement, but did not bite.

Francis Ngannou def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik | KO (punches) | 0:20 Rd 1

Initial thoughts: That Derrick Lewis fight feels a world away right now.

Ngannou made light work of up-and-coming Surinamese knockout artist, Rozenstruik, handing the previously undefeated contender a taste of his own medicine with a brutal 20-second knockout.

It served as Ngannou’s fourth-consecutive first round finish, with the win surely propelling him right back up into title contention. The man is scary, and Daniel Cormier‘s reaction on commentary tells you all you need to know about just how heavy the number two heavyweight hits.

Fight-ending sequence – Wild. Ngannou looked casual to start with, but absolutely threw the kitchen sink at Rozenstruik in a vicious flurry to peddle him back towards the cage and drop him with just one looping blow. A fire fight, truely.

What’s next? – Surely Ngannou takes no fight other than one for UFC gold, while Rozenstruik will be back in the future, possibly taking a similar route to the foe who downed him here.

Calvin Kattar def. Jeremy Stephens | TKO (elbows and punches) | 2:42 Rd 2

Initial thoughts: Kattar could be the real deal.

Kattar sounded a stern warning to the top five UFC featherweight with an impressive stoppage victory over promotional staple, Stephens. The two took no time at all to begin throwing leather – hard – in what was an entertaining bout while it lasted.

Stephens looked to have started the better of the two against the typically patient Kattar, chopping at his legs given the success previous opponents had in that area. But a booming straight right hand from Kattar late in the first round put the durable Stephens on notice.

Kattar’s crisp and powerful boxing combinations would shine through in the end, and the victor’s killer instinct left Stephens in a bad way upon the stoppage.

Fight-ending sequence – Blink and you missed it. Kattar landed a lightning-fast right elbow coming in to drop Stephens, and cut him up with another amid the ground-and-pound. Brutal and swift.

What’s next? – Kattar looks poised to make a splash among the top 10, while it seems Stephens will likely prove a gatekeeper once more.

Greg Hardy def. Yorgan de Castro | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Initial thoughts: Yeah, still some room for improvement on both side.

Hardy returned to the winners list with unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Cape Verdean prospect, de Castro over three rounds. The size difference was noticeable from the beginning, but it did little to stop de Castro rushing in to throw bombs early on.

de Castro took advantage of the openings afforded to him early on the feet, proving technically sound in his boxing whenever Hardy would get in range. Hardy’s lead leg was beat up, but a late flurry in the first round earned him the points according to the judges.

But Hardy would adjust accordingly, with some help from Cormier’s commentary analysis and a possible injury to de Castro, maintaining a greater distance and replying better with his own shots. de Castro’s production fell off a cliff despite his corner begging for activity.

We had it – 29-28 Hardy. A pretty straightforward one, with Hardy easily taking out the last two rounds with his activity. de Castro started well and aggressively, perhaps earning him first-round points.

What’s next? – Hardy will be eager to be thrown into the ringer with ranked fighters, but may not be there yet. de Castro is a step behind that, but could rack up some quick wins in no time.


Anthony Pettis def. Donald Cerrone | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Initial thoughts: Oh, they still got it.

He did it once and he did it again. Former lightweight champ Pettis got the better of fellow veteran and title challenger ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone for the second time in the octagon, earning a unanimous decision victory in their welterweight scrap.

Cerrone came out looking stern, but Pettis was having great success at a distance, closing it well while moving the better of the two. A jumping knee allowed Cerrone to put Pettis in side control, his best moment of the first round.

The dynamism of ‘Showtime’ up top continued to pose problems for Cerrone, with fleeting takedowns the latter’s best form of response. The two got friendly as old foes in a close fight, with Pettis edging it credit to his stand-up counter production and a cracking late shot.

We had it – 29-28 Pettis. Judges got it right, nice.

What’s next? – Pettis’ name alone should earn him another ranked fight at welterweight, while Cerrone’s next move is less clear given his status as a ranked lightweight, and four-consecutive defeats – a career first.

Aleksei Oleinik def. Fabricio Werdum | Decision (split) 28-29, 29-28, 29-28

Initial thoughts: This was fun.

Oleinik took out arguably the biggest victory of his storied career in a split decision triumph over former heavyweight champion, Werdum. The Russian grappling extraordinaire looked in ripping shape, while the returning Werdum was a far cry from his championship shape.

Many pegged the Brazilian as the superior striker, but Oleinik came out throwing bombs from the off as the two submission specialists battled it out up top. The sambo practitioner’s work in the clinch was impressive early on, and his corner etiquette was… unique.

Werdum’s kicks and eventual work from top allowed him an avenue back into the fight as Oleinik tired on the back of his wild swinging punches. He managed to ride out a flurry of submission attempts from the BJJ master though, grinding to a solid win.

We had it – 29-28 Oleinik. Second round is perhaps the one in question, with the Russian’s end sticking in the mind to grant him the edge. First also goes to him, Werdum takes the third.

What’s next? – Time is running out for Werdum, though he was hardly dominated on his return. Oleinik will continue to circle the top 10 rankings.

Carla Esparza def. Michelle Waterson | Decision (split) 27-30, 29-28, 30-27

Initial thoughts: Never. Leave. It. In. The. Hands. Of. The. Judges.

Inaugural strawweight champ Esparza notched a second-consecutive split decision victory, getting the better of the scorecards in what was a largely uneventful three rounds of action.

While Esparza landed a couple of nice blows and a takedown in the first round feeling out period, many of her grappling advances and and striking flurries were countered well by Waterson, leaving her stunned as the scorecards were read out.

The third round yielded the most activity and most likely went Waterson’s way, but neither fighter arguably did enough to be feel totally wronged by the decision either way.

We had it – 29-28 Waterson. First round to Esparza, Waterson edges the third and takes the second. The 30-27s were bizarre.

What’s next? – Ezparza is on a good run back toward the top five, and deserves a high profile opponent. After consecutive defeats, Waterson may soon be thrown to the young prospects.

Vicente Luque def. Niko Price | TKO (doctor stoppage) | 3:37 Rd 3

Initial thoughts: NASTY. Way to set the bar for violence.

Luque served a reminder of his credentials as a ranked welterweight, outgunning a tough opponent in Price to nab a finish in just under three rounds.

The Brazilian often gets into wars, and this fight was no different as the two men brought the heat. Only a doctor’s stoppage could prevent Price from going on, with a nasty gash on the American’s right eye enough to spell his end.

Fight-ending sequence – A BEAUTIFUL left hook from Luque looped over the right hand of Price and landed flush onto his eye, sending him stumbling to the mat. Luque followed up to land a big hammer fist, but the action was broken as the two stood back up, with Price’s closed-up eye rendering him unable to continue.

What’s next? – For Luque, surely a ranked fighter. For Price, a rebound win is crucial to his chances of cracking the rankings.


Bryce Mitchell def. Charles Rosa | Decision (unanimous) 30-25, 30-25, 30-24

Initial thoughts: Get this man some camo shorts.

Ryan Spann def. Sam Alvey | Decision (split) 29-28, 28-29, 29-28

Initial thoughts: Sam might not be smilin’ any more.

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