American Justin Gaethje has delivered a career-defining performance in stopping fellow lightweight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in Florida.
The fight, played out in front of an empty arena due to COVID-19 restrictions, was for the UFC interim lightweight title. The winner to unify the title against Khabib Nurmagomedov later in the year.
Gaethje produced a near-flawless performance, hammering Ferguson with heavy leg quicks and powerful boxing combinations, ending an eight-year unbeaten streak for 'El Cucay'.
It was a bruising fight that only ended when referee Herb Dean called a halt to the action late in the final round, ruling Ferguson had taken too much punishment.
Ferguson wore the battle scars of a defeated man post-fight with multiple cuts on his face and he could barely walk after the leg attacks of his fellow American.
Earlier, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo retained his title and then promptly retired from the sport after a stoppage win over former long-time champion Dominick Cruz.
Cejudo was sharp early on, and despite suffering a nasty gash on his forehead as a result of an accidental clash of heads, he was able to stun Cruz with a vicious knee late in the second round.
A few follow up punches was all referee Keith Petterson needed to see before he stopped the fight via TKO, to the dismay of a seemingly recovered Cruz.
Heavyweight bomber Francic Ngannou scored his fourth straight first-round knockout after blasting accomplished kickboxer Jair Rosentruick with a vicious left-hand hook, at the 32-second mark of the first round.
Ngannou called out champion Stipe Miocic post-fight, who is scheduled to meet former champion Daniel Cormier in the coming months.
It was a highly successful show for the UFC - the first live sports enemy held in the United States since March, and with two further events planned in the next seven days. The Octagon is rolling once again.
Justin Gaethje (ic) d Tony Ferguson via fifth-round TKO.
Henry Cejudo (c) d Dominick Cruz via second-round TKO.
Francis Ngannou d Jair Rozenstruik via first-round KO.
Calvin Kattar d Jeremy Stephens via second-round TKO (strikes).
Greg Hardy d Yorgan De Castro via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27).
Anthony Pettis d Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28).
Aleksei Oleinik d Fabricio Werdum via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28).
Carla Esparza d Michelle Waterson via split decision (30-27 28-29 30-27).
Vicente Luque d Niko Price via TKO (strikes; doctor stoppage).
Bryce Mitchell d Charles Rosa via unanimous decision (30-25 30-25 30-24).
Ryan Spann d Sam Alvey via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28).