May 9, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I had myself a nice little Saturday night when I sat down to watch UFC 249 and “The Great British Baking Show” simultaneously through the night. That experience was just as bizarre as you might expect it be, by the way.
No disrespect to Paul Hollywood, but the UFC’s return to action was significantly more entertaining than the smackdown laid on a disappointing pie crust that deserved more time in the oven. Sure, it took a little bit to get adjusted to watching a major card play out in a quiet, empty arena in Jacksonville, but luckily the action that played out was completely worthy of the hype even without a wild crowd behind it.
There’s plenty to unpack from Saturday so let’s ask Brent Brookhouse what his biggest takeaways were from the event:
  • UFC 249 delivered the right card at the right time: Although the process of assembling the card (and the event, in general) was a bit of a mess, the UFC 249 card proved to be absolutely awesome. There were a bunch of fantastic fights with buzzworthy conclusions — including stunning knockouts, a controversial stoppage, a major title upset and a surprise retirement. If the UFC was hoping to make a splash as the first sport back in a barren sports landscape, well… bravo
  • Justin Gaethje became the ultimate opportunist: Gaethje got an opportunity at a championship belt thanks to the coronavirus forcing Khabib Nurmagomedov out of his matchup against Tony Ferguson at the top of the UFC 249 card. Gaethje took full advantage of that good fortune, putting together an absolutely beautiful performance to dismantle Ferguson in stunning fashion. Now, it’s Gaethje who holds the belt and awaits a shot at Nurmagomedov
  • About that Tony Ferguson meme: We all knew the main event was going to be a violent, bloody mess… if only because most Ferguson fights end with his opponent’s face in a mangled mess, as evidenced by a meme that was passed around before the fight. However, it was Ferguson’s face that was rearranged on Saturday night — including a broken orbital bone — as Gaethje showed off his power and inflicted a massive amount of punishment (although, to his credit, Ferguson wore more shots than most fighters could have withstood)
  • Henry Cejudo retired… maybe?: After beating Dominick Cruz via TKO, Henry Cejudo announced he was retiring and going out on top. Of course, if I had a dollar for every time a fighter announced their retirement only to get back in the ring/octagon soon after, well, I’d be socially distancing on a private beach rather than in your inbox right now. It’s possible Cejudo really is done with the grind after all these years, but it’s possible he’s also using this retirement as a negotiating ploy to secure a bigger bag on his next fight
  • Francis Ngannou is a terrifying human: This isn’t exactly new information but we got another reminder on Saturday. Ngannou absolutely destroyed Jairzinho Rozenstruik in their heavyweight clash, knocking him out 20 seconds into the fight. Ngannou is a baaaaaaad man with frightening power behind him, and now we’ll have to wait and see if that title shot is coming
The event seemed to run smoothly from an operations standpoint, which is good news for the UFC as they look to get very busy with frequent events in the coming days and weeks. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be real tough to top the entertainment value that was provided by Saturday’s card.
Also, I’m so desperate for human contact at this point that I might honestly welcome Francis Ngannou coming to my apartment and just beating me to a pulp.

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Dominick CruzFrancis NgannouHenry CejudoJustin GaethjeKhabib NurmagomedovmmaThe Great British Baking ShowTony Fergusonufcufc 249

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