Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson suffered a devastating knee injury days before he was supposed to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 223 main event in April. He underwent surgery to repair his fibular collateral ligament six months ago.
He returned to the Octagon on Saturday in the UFC 229 co-main event and reclaimed his place as the top contender in the 155-pound division by stopping former champion Anthony Pettis.
Ferguson kept a relentless pace and applied constant pressure. He gave Pettis little time or space to work and forced the former titleholder to fight moving away. He targeted the body with punches and kicks as Pettis did his best to return fire.
In the second frame, Ferguson kept the pressure on Pettis but was clipped by a right hand that sent him to the canvas. He quickly got back to his feet but was hit with another right hand the put him back down. He rolled and covered. Pettis followed Ferguson to the canvas but Ferguson recovered. As Pettis postured up, Ferguson kicked him off and rose to his feet.
He opened up a large cut along Pettis’ hairline and then another over Pettis’ left eye. A doctor was called in to check the cut and a towel was used to wipe the blood off Ferguson’s face. Ferguson smiled at Pettis as the fight was restarted.
Once the action resumed, Ferguson picked up the pace. He unloaded combination after combination as Pettis covered up along the cage. Pettis responded with right hands but Ferguson was overwhelming him with volume. As the round ended, Pettis was slow getting to his corner.
While on the stool, Pettis revealed to his coaches that his right hand was broken. His coaches decided to stop the fight instead of sending him back out to fight Ferguson with one hand. With Pettis’ corner calling off the fight, Ferguson picked up a TKO win.
Following the win, Ferguson turned his attention to former two-division champion Conor McGregor during his post-fight interview.
“Where are you at McNugget, you f—ing piece of s—. I’m going to kick your a–. If f—ing Khabib don’t do it, I will. Son of a b—-. I’ll give you a proper a– whoppin any day,” he yelled into the microphone.
“I had f—ing fun in there. Nobody was going to take this f—ing time from me. I went in there and acted like it was sparring,” he said. “Thank you UFC. I’m back.”