The face of Daniel Cormier said it all. Francis Ngannou is here and he’s coming for the belt. The Cameroonian fighter put on one of the performances of the night at UFC 249. He knocked out Jairzinho Rosenstruick in just 20 seconds to seal as status as heavyweight’s No. 1 contender.
Jairzinho did what few sane men do. He called out Ngannou after beating another of the Cameroonian’s victims in Alistair Overeem, by way of a vicious lip-splitting KO. Ngannou realized that he’s not getting a title shot until Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic sort out their business. So he took a risk and obliged the Suriname native.
But Jairzinho lived to regret his words. His only meaningful strike was a leg kick. Ngannou saw an opening and stormed forward, guns blazing, to leave his opponent out cold on the deck. It was terrifying, short, and brutal, Is there a scarier fighter in the world right now?
— Barstool Sports (@BarstoolsTweets) May 10, 2020
This was an excellent event despite the circumstances it went down in. However, there were some strange judging calls. For example, Carla Esparza defeated Michelle Waterson by split-decision. It was a close fight and could have gone either way. However, two judges gave both women a 30-27 respectively. What were they looking at?
Donald Cerrone dropped to four losses in a row after losing to Anthony Pettis. This was an entertaining fight that saw Pettis put together a more meaningful offense. However, he did eat a heavy shin at one point which was insane to watch. Elsewhere, Alexei Oleinik got a split decision win over Fabricio Werdum and Calvin Kattar ended up destroying Jeremy Stephens with a brutal KO.
Calvin Kattar with the knockout of the night thus far ??
— Sideline Sports (@sportsideline) May 10, 2020
The co-main event provided a number of storylines. First of all, Dominick Cruz was making his comeback after four years out. But he lost by TKO to bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. Cejudo then retired after the win which was totally unexpected. However, the drama wasn’t finished as Cruz accused referee Kevin Peterson of smelling like alcohol and cigarettes. He was very unhappy with the decision.
“That was an early stoppage, 100 percent – I’m positive of it,” Cruz. “I wish there was a way to keep these refs a little more responsible sometimes. The guy smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, so who knows what he was doing. Definitely (he did). I wish they drug tested them. I know Herb Dean is good. He’s one of the best refs. I immediately when I saw that ref I was like, ‘Man, is there a way to veto a ref and get a new one?’ I wonder that.”
— DailySportsDosage (@SportsDsd) May 10, 2020
Tony Ferguson fought Justin Gaethje in the main event for the interim lightweight title. It was a great fight, even if it turned out to be one-sided. Gaethje put on the performance of his life to hand Ferguson a fifth-round TKO loss. It was a savage, clinical beatdown from the new interim champion.
As much as Gaethje deserves it, there is a bittersweet element because now we’ll probably never see Ferguson fight Khabib Nurmgamedov. Instead, Gaethje will fight the Russian champion. MMA is a cruel sport. Still, Ali Abdelaziz will be a very happy man.