The most appropriate words to describe the ending of the UFC 238 lightweight fight between Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone were “strange,” “weird,” “unusual” and plenty of the bleepable variety.
Ferguson beat Cerrone by TKO on a doctor’s stoppage at the end of the second round because Cerrone’s right eye swelled shut after he made the mistake of blowing his bloody, battered nose. He was taken to a hospital afterward with what UFC President Dana White said was a broken right orbital bone.
The medical ruling might have been the less controversial part of the round.
Earlier, Ferguson landed a right to Cerrone’s bleeding and swollen face after the horn, when referee Dan Miragliotta was slow to step in between the fighters. Miragliotta went to the replay because the late blow could have disqualified Ferguson or caused a ruling of no contest. But, because Miragliotta determined that Cerrone’s eye was not struck by the blow, the fight ended with Ferguson ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards after the second round.
“Literally, I don’t even think the punch landed on his face that side,” Ferguson told ESPN. “It was the other side. It was towards his left eye. I mean, we’re in an emotional fight. I’m an emotional fighter. I don’t like to try to do that s---. I don’t aim to do that s---. Like I said, there’s been a lot going on this past year. We’re in a fight, man. There was a lot of drama and s--- going on.”
The unsatisfying ending caused fans in Chicago’s United Center to throw things into the Octagon, but White’s take was that the referee and Illinois State Athletic Commission officials handled the ending properly and that Ferguson won the fight “fair and square.”
“Anybody that’s in this arena tonight that thought ‘Cowboy’ should have continued to fight should be beat with a stick, okay?” White said of Cerrone (via ESPN). “That’s just horrible to think that guy should go back in there and fight like that. He would — of course he would. But he shouldn’t and he didn’t. That’s why there’s an athletic commission.”
Unlike the crowd, other fighters agreed on social media.
Cerrone said the punch had nothing to do with the ending and apologized for blowing his nose.
"That was the fight I think everybody wanted,” he told the Octagon crowd. “I’m so sorry. I don’t quit. I don’t back down. Man, I just wanted to keep fighting. I was just asking, ‘Can you just push the air back down?’ You’re right, I shouldn’t have blown my nose. I’m a veteran, I’m old school, and I should’ve known that. But I did, and I humbly couldn’t finish the fight, and I apologize.”
Ferguson is now likely to fight the winner of the lightweight unification title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov, the champion, and Dustin Poirier, the interim champion, in September.
“If me and Cowboy don’t fight again, I want that title shot. I’ve had that title, I feel that’s why it’s such an emotional roller-coaster,” Ferguson said (via the Associated Press). “I’ve increased my value after this fight tonight. If Poirier cannot do it, I’ll go to Abu Dhabi [UFC 242] and do it myself, and if [Conor] McGregor wants to dance, I have a tune for him too, so regardless I’ll be ready.”
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