Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson extended his winning streak on Saturday with a win over No. 4 ranked Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 238 in Chicago.
The bout had major implications in the 155-pound division with the winner likely getting a title shot in their next out. The two wasted no time mixing it up in the opening round. Ferguson pressed forward and landed his jab. Cerrone came on in the closing seconds of the frame and the first round was a close one.
In the second frame, Ferguson continued to apply constant pressure. He peppered Cerrone with jabs and kicks to the body. Ferguson began to take over the fight and Cerrone's face showed the damage inflicted. At the end of the round, Ferguson landed a right hand after the bell. He received a strong warning from the referee. Before the third frame, Cerrone blew his nose causing his right eye to completely swell closed. The doctor was called into the cage and determined that Cerrone couldn't continue.
It was a bizarre ending to the fight. The athletic commission reviewed a replay of the ending of the round and determined that the punch after the bell didn't cause Cerrone's eye to swell closed. Ferguson was declared the winner by doctor stoppage.
"The punch had nothing to do with it," said Cerrone after the loss. "I don't quit. I don't back down. I just wanted to keep fighting... I shouldn't have blown my nose. I'm a veteran. I'm old school and I should have known that. But I did and I humbly couldn't finish the fight and I apologize."
Ferguson let Cerrone speak first after the fight and then expressed regret for the late punch at the end of the second round. A video replay of Cerrone blowing his nose showed that's what caused his eye to swell shut.
"That's not how I wanted the fight to go," said Ferguson after the win. "I don't like to win that way. We can throw it back. I don't mind doing that. I really don't. He's a hell of a fighter... I don't want to win like that. I know better than that. I'm a better person than that. I'm a better fighter than that.
With the win, Ferguson will likely face the winner of champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier. The two meet in the UFC 242 main event on Sept. 7.
"I couldn't give a f--- who's next. I don't give two f----," said Ferguson.