CHICAGO — Tony Ferguson won by technical knockout after a medical stoppage in a lightweight fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 on Saturday night.
Ferguson (26-3) won his 12th straight fight, the longest active streak in the UFC, after a doctor stopped the fight after the second round after checking on the swelling of Cerrone’s right eye.
With the win, Ferguson moved into a position to face the winner of the lightweight unification title fight between champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September.
Saturday’s main card also featured two title fights.
In the main event, flyweight champ Henry Cejudo (15-2) finished Marlon Moraes (22-6-1) in the third round for the vacated bantamweight championship.
Cejudo, an Olympic gold medal wrestler, showed off his striking game in the second round, delivering a series of uppercuts and knees to the face of Moraes.
Cejudo carried the momentum to the third round, taking Moraes to the ground and delivering a series of punches before the fight was stopped just before the third round ended.
Cejudo defended his flyweight belt against former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw with a first-round knockout in January. Dillashaw went down to flyweight to chase his second belt, but he was stopped by Cejudo in just over 30 seconds and had his belt stripped after he failed pre- and post-fight drug tests.
Cejudo became the fourth fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two different weight divisions.
In a women’s flyweight title fight, Valentina Shevchenko (17-3) defended her belt by landing a vicious left kick to the head of Jessica Eye (14-7) early in the second round. Eye was knocked out cold, but she was able to recover and walk off on her own power.
The fight between Ferguson and Cerrone was the highlight of the card. They had the attention of the crowd, which was equally split between the fighters.
The two exchanged blows in the first round. Cerrone landed a jab that put a cut above Ferguson’s right eye, bloodying Ferguson’s face.
In the second round, Ferguson went to work on Cerrone’s face, landing a series jabs and kicks, continuing to bloody Cerrone’s face and pounding his right eye.
Cerrone (36-12) took down Ferguson with two minutes left in the round, but Ferguson recovered quickly and continued to pound Cerrone’s face.
Ferguson delivered a punch just after the bell. It wasn’t immediately clear if Ferguson was penalized.
Cerrone, who was alert and ready to begin the third round, was checked by a doctor who immediately put a stop to fight after checking on the swelling of Cerrone’s right eye.
Ferguson’s road to the lightweight title might not be that simple. Potential scheduling conflicts could affect the coveted title shot for Ferguson. Nurmagomedov’s agent has plans for his client to face Georges St-Pierre at some point, and Conor McGregor, the No. 3 contender, is holding out for a rematch against Nurmagomedov after he lost to him at UFC 229.
Saturday’s fight against Ferguson was finalized just one week after Cerrone beat Al Iaquinta on May 4, giving Cerrone less than a month to prepare for Ferguson. Ferguson was back in the cage after a layoff because of personal issues.
Ferguson beat Anthony Pettis last October.