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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Tony Ferguson after crushing loss at UFC 249?

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned from an extended hiatus to stage UFC 249 this past weekend (Sat., May 9, 2020), as the ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) event blew the (empty) roof off VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Plenty of fighters were left feeling the post-fight blues, including Dominick Cruz, who was stopped by Bantamweight kingpin, Henry Cejudo, with just two seconds remaining in round two; a highly-controversial stoppage that was amplified after these statements from “The Dominator.”

Also, Jairzinho Rozenstruick was given a hard lesson on the levels of mixed martial arts (MMA) after he was knocked out by Francis Ngannou in just 20 seconds (recap). But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Tony Ferguson.

Coming into his interim Lightweight title fight against Justin Gaethje, “El Cucuy” was pretty dismissive of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the man he was supposed to be facing at the event. In fact, Ferguson went as far as to say “The Eagle” no longer existed for him, and after getting knocked out by Gaethje, that statement is more real than ever.

Sadly, fight fans likely lost out on the opportunity to ever see Khabib face Ferguson after five failed attempts, as Gaethje will now get the title unification bout against “The Eagle” sometime in 2020. And despite Ferguson’s dismissal of Khabib, you know it’s a fight he really wanted to prove he was the best 155-pound fighter in the game and the uncrowned champ. It’s a risk both UFC and Ferguson were willing to take, which ultimately ended up backfiring.

On to the fight itself, Gaethje picked apart Ferguson for nearly five rounds, as the power-punching contender landed one brutal blow after another, busting up “El Cucuy’s” face before clipping him right on the nose in the fifth round to force the referee stoppage.

Still, as impressive as Gaethje’s performance was, Ferguson’s durability was something that left everyone in awe. The shots he ate from “Highlight” were the type that would normally leave all other foes laying unconscious on the floor, sort of like this and this.

But, “El Cucuy” simply kept on coming, absorbing one powerful punch after another to deliver his own. In fact, Ferguson was the only one to score a knockdown, blasting Gaethje with a nice uppercut to close out round two. Ferguson’s chin proved to be made of granite, and his endurance is out of this world. In defeat, Ferguson earned everyone’s respect and admiration, leaving no doubt that he is one of the best in the game.

The loss was Ferguson’s first in eight years, snapping his 12-fight win streak. But not all is lost for the former interim champion, as he still has big fights on the horizon. There is always the possibility of getting matched up against Conor McGregor, which could be his shortcut back to another title fight and possibly another booking against Nurmagomedov.

Whatever is next for Ferguson, hopefully he takes some much-needed time off to rest and recuperate, as cutting weight twice in three weeks, and enduring a beatdown at the hands of Gaethje is not something you want to rush back from right away.

For complete UFC 249 results and coverage click here.

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