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Tony Ferguson Suffered Orbital Injury in UFC 249 Loss to Justin Gaethje

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 09: Tony Ferguson of the United States looks on against Justin Gaethje of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

UFC President Dana White said Tony Ferguson suffered a broken orbital in his TKO loss to Justin Gaethje on Saturday night at UFC 249, according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.

The decisive fifth-round stoppage made Gaethje the interim lightweight champion.

UFC @ufc

👊💥😱 How is Ferguson still standing after this massive right from @Justin_Gaethje?! #UFC249 https://t.co/Ow1Qdb3cNQ

Gaethje pummeled Ferguson throughout the fight, landing 100 significant strikes to his head and 143 overall.

UFC @ufc

Quite possibly the BEST version of @Justin_Gaethje we've ever seen. 👏 #UFC249 https://t.co/KIFLwMlTVG

It wasn't the only major blow to Ferguson, however. It is now Gaethje who will likely get a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov next, not Ferguson, who has seen five fights scheduled against The Eagle and subsequently canceled.

Few fighters have had more success than Ferguson with less hardware to show for it:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Justin Gaethje deserves all the respexct in the world. That was incredible. But hard not to feel for Ferguson right now, too. He’s been through so much, 12 in a row in the best division … and no official title fight on the resume. Really tough.

Even Nurmagomedov put aside his past rivalry with Ferguson to wish him well Sunday:

khabib nurmagomedov @TeamKhabib

Whatever happened is in the past. Heads up Tony, I hope everything is good with you and your family. When your son grow up, he’ll be proud with you. @TonyFergusonXT

Ferguson's future is now unknown, with his orbital fracture likely sidelining him for quite some time. Gaethje, meanwhile, will likely defend his title against Nurmagomedov in a future fight that should be a fascinating contrast of styles between his brawling stand-up game and Nurmagomedov's legendary ground-and-pound.

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And Gaethje isn't particularly interested in his interim belt.

"I'm waiting for the real one," he said after his win, per Brian Campbell of CBS Sports. "I knew I was a killer stepping in here. I'm good bro. No better drug on earth than adrenaline coursing through my veins.

"I have a world-class coach," he added. "I had to lose to change. You can't fix what's broken. Once I understood what was wrong, I was getting hit too much and I was having too much fun. Both times I lost, I was having too much fun. At this level, you cannot do that."

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