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Gaethje crowned interim UFC lightweight champion after downing Ferguson in five-round epic

The event in Jacksonville was held amid strict hygiene guidelines.

Justin Gaethje in action against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
Justin Gaethje in action against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
Image: John Raoux

JUSTIN GAETHJE IS the new interim UFC lightweight champion after overcoming Tony Ferguson in a five-round classic at UFC 249.

Held amid strict hygiene guidelines in a near-empty arena in Jacksonville, Florida, the event marked the first UFC broadcast since March 7.

Unaffected by the lack of an audience, the main event was a thrilling bout that saw defending-champion Ferguson battered by Gaethje for almost 25 minutes before the punishment finally became too much.

Gaethje’s fifth-round TKO victory brings Ferguson’s dominant 12-fight win-streak to an exhilarating end while also diminishing any hopes of the superfight between Ferguson and reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov taking place any time soon.

Earlier, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defended his title with an emphatic second-round TKO victory against Dominick Cruz before announcing his shock retirement during the post-fight interview.

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Other highlights from the event included Francis Ngannou knocking out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds and Anthony Pettis edging out fellow-veteran Donald Cerrone in a gruelling battle.

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