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UFC 249 live blog: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 weigh-ins
Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will compete for UFC gold in the main event Saturday night.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

This is the UFC 249 live blog for Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje, the lightweight headliner for Saturday’s fight card at VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

Ferguson attempts to win his second UFC interim lightweight title and set up a title unifier with champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, while Gaethje tries to play spoiler as a replacement opponent for the oft-canceled bout.

Check out the UFC 249 live blog below.

Round 1: Herb Dean is the third man in the cage for the main event. Ferguson takes the center to start but the first minute is a feeling out process from both men. Ferguson lands a good body kick and now he’s out there moving like he does. Gaethje lands a leg kick and a right hand. Leg kick and left hand from Gaethje with Ferguson lands a shot to the body. Inside kick from Tony and right hand from Gaethje. Big left hand from Gaethje lands. Ferguson staying active and Gaethje misses a haymaker. Big leg kick from Gaethje while Ferguson peppers away with jabs and a superman punch. They exchange left hands. Slower pace than many were expecting but still lots of action. Big right hand from Gaethje gets a smile out of Ferguson. Leg kick from Ferguson. Nice right hand from Gaethje on the counter. And a right hand on the lead. Sharp jab from Ferguson and a big left hook from Gaethje. And another!Ferguson wearing it all well though and the round ends.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 for Gaethje.

Round 2: Ferguson is historically a slow starter so having made it out of round one could prove huge for him. Ferguson’s forehead is showing a bit of wear and he comes out and lands a big superman punch that had Gaethje stumble for a second. Gaethje lands a moster left hook but Ferguson eats it well. Big punch from Gaethje and Ferguson goes to a few low kicks. Gaethje lands a pair of strong calf kicks. The two collide and Ferguson just avoids a big punch. But eats another. Ferguson’s output has slowed somewhat. Low kick from Gaethje and a big one-two. Ferguson jabbing the body but Gaethje lands a big right hook to the midsection. Huge left hand from Gaethje. Ferguson may be rope-a-doping Gaethje right now. Big left hand gets Ferguson hurt. And another combination. Ferguson’s chin is performing heroicly tonight. Now Ferguson is starting to attack and Gaethje lands a good low kick. Body shot from Gaethje but Ferguson keeps peppering shots in. Good one two from Gaethje but Ferguson is now marching through it all. Ferguson’s face is showing it but Gaethje looks to be slowing. Gaethje gets dropped at the end of the round with a tricky big uppercut but he’s up and fine!

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Gaethje (20-18 overall).

Round 3: Ferguson still looks fresh to start the third. Gaethje’s coaches told him to ease back on his power. Ferguson lands a head kick and Gaethje lands a big right hand. Body head combo from Gaethje but Ferguson is being El Cucuy and walking through everything, landing smaller shots of his own. Big left hand from Gaethje and Ferguson’s face is all busted up. His right eye may have a busted orbital and it’s swelling up. Right hand from Gaethje and he’s still very much here despite Ferguson’s pace. Ferguson eats a MASSIVE right hadn that has him stumbling back. Gaethje in pursuit but backs off as Ferguson appears to regain his legs. Another big shot and another from Gaethje! Ferguson is showing his toughness and KEEPS COMING FORWARD. Ferguson fires off a lot of punches now but every one of Gaethje’s is matching five of Ferguson’s. Ferguson sweeps the leg! Gaethje is back up and now Ferguson is grooving in there. Gaethje lands a head kick and a monster right hand and Ferguson is still there and coming forward.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Gaethje (30-27 overall).

Round 4: Ferguson’s toughness and conditioning is truly something special. He’s busted up and been hit with the kitchen sink but still seems fine. Gaethje is definitely tired but not in a doomed way. Leg kick from Gaethje opens proceedings for the championship rounds and we’re back to Ferguson marching forward and Gaethje moving away and countering heavy. Gaethje ducks under a wheelkick from Ferguson and Tony is back to vibing a bit. Step in elbow from Ferguson just misses and he eats a left for his troubles. Another big shot from Gaethje. Ferguson lands a combo but Gaethje steps in with a big left. Another leg kick from Gaethje seems to maybe have finally affected Ferguson but it’s only temporary and El Cucuy marches on. Jumping front kick from Ferguson his the body. Big left hand from Ferguson but Gaethje lands his own and Ferguson is in full retreat now!Ferguson is so tough though he starts firing back and now Gaethje is backing off. Ferguson is vibing again, trying to get comfortable. A front kick from Ferguson lands low and Gaethje brushes it off quickly. Left hook to the body from Ferguson lands cleanly. Ferguson is now targeting the body a lot and it’s effective but a HUGE left kick from Gaethje buckles Ferguson’s leg. These two are still throwing down and Gaethje lands a head kick that Ferguson eats. This fight is wild.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Gaethje (40-36 overall).

Round 5: Ferguson likely needs a stoppage to keep his win streak alive but Gaethje’s corner employs him to not get comfortable. Gaethje lands a good left to start the final round. And a leg kick. Ferguson misses a superman punch and gets hurt by a counter right hand. A HUGE ONE-TWO FROM GAETHJE LANDS. And Gaethje keeps working the legs too. Ferguson is pumping the jab and trying to find his spots. Good combo from Ferguson. And a leg kick. MONSTEROUS ONE-TWO FROM GAETHJE HAS FERGUSON HURT. Tony is in full retreat but Gaethje is not going to overcommit. Ferguson attempts an Imanari Roll to mix things up but it misses by a loy and a huge combination from Gaethje had Ferguson hurt again!Big jabs from Gaethje and one drops Ferguson. El Cucuy is back on his feet and still coming forward but he’s getting battered. Clean shots from Gaethje and this is kind of an ass-kicking. Another left from Gaethje. Ferguson is still there but gets seriously hurt by a left hand and Ferguson shakes his head and walks away. Gaethje steps in and lands a shot or two but Herb Dean steps in!!!! Justin Gaethje is the new UFC interim lightweight champion.

Ferguson is unhappy with the stoppage but on review, it seems justified. Ferguson was on wobbly legs and his body looked like it was shutting down.

OFFICIAL DECISION: Justin Gaethje stops Tony Ferguson with strikes at 3:39 of the fifth round.

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