Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight talents Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis last night (Oct. 6, 2018) at UFC 229 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
There were three kings of the Lightweight division leading into UFC 229, but unfortunately Tony Ferguson was the odd man out of the undisputed title match. As a result, “El Cucuy” was tasked to prove his worth for the 11th straight time for a chance to get back in there opposite the main event winner. Despite being a major underdog, Pettis had a golden opportunity on his hands. The former champion was not really in the immediate title mix, but he could abruptly change that fact with a victory last night.
It was a wild fight.
Ferguson danced around and threw a lot of kicks. Pettis tried to target the lead leg, but it was Ferguson who chopped into Pettis’ own thigh more often. In addition, Ferguson’s front kick up the middle was finding a home. Pettis, meanwhile, looked to score with counter shots, but Ferguson’s weird rhythm was throwing him off a bit.
By the second half of the round, Pettis looked considerably less comfortable. His back touched the fence more often, and while the occasional overhand did land for the Karateka, he spent a lot of time eating shots along the fence.
Ferguson finished the round with a jumping right hand off the fence that stunned Pettis.
Pettis needed something big in the second, and he found it in the opening 15 seconds, stunning Ferguson with a heavy punch. Ferguson was badly hurt but ninja rolled his way into a leg lock and then safety. Just 90 seconds into the round, Ferguson was back in the fight and ready to scrap.
Once standing, Ferguson went back on the offensive, slamming his shin into Pettis’ lead leg. With Pettis repeatedly trapped on the fence, Ferguson worked low kicks, kicks up the middle, nasty elbows, and a lot of straights to the mid-section. Pettis’ volume dropped off, but he did occasionally whack Ferguson with hard counter shots, a result of the aggressor standing up too tall.
Despite the disastrous start, Ferguson stormed back to win the round. Not only that, but given Pettis’ broken hand and all the damage absorbed, Duke Roufus made the call to throw in the towel.
This was an incredible, classic Tony Ferguson performance. Was his movement wacky? Definitely. Did he managed to get dropped at some point? You bet. At the end of the day, however, “El Cucuy’s” pace and damaging blows build up before anyone can take him out.
Ferguson’s elbow work was wonderful. The second Pettis settled along the fence, Ferguson began to fight hands and slam elbows. At times, he simply lunged into them, suddenly closing the distance with the brunt of his arm. Ferguson is still certainly hittable in the pocket, so those elbows closed the distance and kept him safe.
Now on an 11-fight win streak, I still see Tony Ferguson as the best Lightweight in the world.
Pettis did his part in making this an amazing fight. Ferguson sometimes just walks forward with no concern for his opponent’s offense, and Pettis did make him pay with some seriously hard counter shots. Ultimately, though, the combination of a shattered right hand and all the abuse he absorbed resulted in his coach deciding to call the bout.
This was a second impressive showing in a row for Pettis. He wasn’t likely to win this fight, but he performed well and didn’t fold under his opponent’s pressure. Even late in the fight, Pettis was trying to win.
Last night, Tony Ferguson returned from injury and scored a stoppage win. Will Ferguson recapture the crown?
For complete UFC 229: “Khabib vs. McGregor” results and play-by-play, click HERE!