There’s no denying that the Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje main event lived up to the hype at UFC 249, but it’s also hard to ignore the fact that “El Cucuy” didn’t look like the Boogeyman we know and love on fight night. Something just seemed off with him ... he was a bit slower, less accurate. His punches just weren’t connecting like they usually do, and Gaethje took full advantage by wading in and slipping his attacks, ripping endless hard counters in response. The end came late in the fifth after referee Herb Dean had seen enough and mercifully stopped the fight (watch the highlights here).
It’s the first time in 13 fights that Ferguson looked mortal, and if you ask UFC president Dana White, it may have been the second weight cut in under a month that took some of the fight out of him. Ferguson famously shared video on April 17th — the original weekend of UFC 249 — showing him on a scale at 155 pounds, a cut that takes a lot out of most lightweights in the division.
“I don’t want to take away anything from Gaethje because he fought an incredible fight,” White said at the post fight presser. “But I thought Tony looked off tonight, I thought he looked slow. And I would have to imagine cutting weight twice in a month will affect you. So I dunno if that was it or what, but that guy isn’t f**king human. He’s got a chin like nothing ... nobody takes Gaethje’s punches like that. Nobody I’ve seen since I’ve been watching Gaethje fight can take punches like that. But this kid did. Tony Ferguson ... is a special human being.”
White had no problem with the stoppage. In fact, he thought it was a bit late.
“I actually think the fight could have been stopped a little sooner, to be honest with you,” White continued. “Tony took a lot of damage tonight. Not only did he take a lot of damage, he took damage from a guy who hits like a truck. A guy who punches people very hard and usually knocks people unconscious when he hits them with those shots. So I think the stoppage was great and I think it actually could have been stopped sooner.”
Asked about White’s double cut theory, Justin Gaethje agreed.
“I can’t say for sure, but I do believe it would affect my performance if I did that,” the new interim lightweight champion said.
In the cage following the fight, Ferguson implied it was the extended training camp and switch to a different kind of opponent, not the extra cut, that played the biggest factor.
“Man, it’s been a long f**king camp,” Ferguson told Joe Rogan. “I’ll be real. We’ve been preparing since November, obviously the A game didn’t follow through with Khabib. Obviously Justin was the only one that wanted to sign on the dotted line. Just a long camp and the weight cut had nothing to do with it. Justin’s a tough f**k, I’ll be real. I prepared for Khabib, not too much of a striker. S**t happens, man, what can you do?”
“I would have much rather been finished than have someone step in,” Ferguson concluded. “I was still inside of it, even though he stopped I wish I would have gotten finished.”
That’s classic “El Cucuy” ... dude would rather be knocked out cold than have the ref step in and save him. So what do you think, Maniacs? Was the double weight cut Ferguson’s mistake, or was it accepting such a radical shift in opponents on short notice after a long camp?