Justin Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson with a fifth-round technical knockout to capture the interim UFC lightweight title during UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night.
UFC President Dana White credited Gaethje for earning the belt but questioned whether Ferguson was properly prepared for the fight.
"I don't want to take anything away from Gaethje, because he fought an incredible fight," White told reporters afterward. "But I thought Tony looked off tonight. I thought he looked slow, and I would have to imagine that cutting weight twice in a month will affect you. So I don't know if that's it or what."
White added: "I actually thought the fight should have been stopped sooner. Tony took a lot of damage tonight. Not only did he take a lot of damage, it was from a guy who hits like a f--king truck, a guy who punches very hard and usually knocks people unconscious when he hits them with those shots."
UFC 249 was held at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena without fans in attendance.
Ferguson carried a 12-fight winning streak into his matchup with Gaethje and denied his weight cutting had anything to do with Saturday's result:
The UFC announced April 6 that Gaethje was going to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov and face Ferguson for the interim lightweight belt. Nurmagomedov was unable to face Ferguson because travel bans associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented him from leaving his native Russia.
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have had five matchups called off since 2015, according to the Denver Post's Joe Nguyen.
Nurmagomedov responded to Gaethje's victory on Twitter:
Gaethje told Joe Rogan in the Octagon that he wants Nurmagomedov next:
Gaethje is 22-2-0 all time. The 31-year-old has won by knockout in his last four fights.
Ferguson, meanwhile, dropped to 25-4-0. The 36-year-old's impressive winning streak came short of earning him a belt.
White told reporters that Gaethje and Nurmagomedov will unify lightweight belts.