Ferguson makes his first appearance since a brutal TKO loss against Justin Gaethje that denied him a second interim lightweight title and a long-awaited showdown with undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. Oliveira hopes to deny “El Cucuy” a comeback and cement his shot at the title after seven consecutive wins, including a recent submission of Kevin Lee.
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Round 1: Mark Smith is the third man in the cage for the co-main event. The first thirty seconds is all feeling out and the action gets kicked off with a low kick from Oliveira. And that gets the action rolling as Ferguson comes in with a jab, and Oliveira fires a left hook that has Ferguson backing up. Ferguson throws a spinning elbow that misses but a right hand lands. The action is fast with Oliveira coming forward and Ferguson moving around and doing his flow thing. Shots on both sides and Oliveira gets a clinch and quickly is able to pick up Tony and score a takedown right into side control.
Oliveira is trying to step to mount but Tony is defending well. Shoulder strikes from Oliveira but nothing serious lands. It does allow Oliveira to take the mount though with plenty of time to work. Oliveira grapevining the legs and looking for openings, landing elbows occasionally. Ferguson bucks and Oliveira stays with and lands a big shot. Ferguson is unable to get out of this mount and now there’s only a minute left. Ferguson tries to scramble again but Oliveira is equal to it and keeps the position. Now Oliveira is landing elbows and then he looks for an arm-triangle but Ferguson is wise to it. This is total control from Oliveira.
With ten seconds left Oliveira jumps on an armbar and it’s deep! OH MY GOD FERGUSON IS GRIMACING IN PAIN! OLIVEIRA TUCKS IT UNDER HIS ARM ABD CRANKS AND THAT LOOKS BROKEN BUT FERGUSON WON’T TAP AND THE BELL SAVES HIM. GOOD LORD THAT WAS INSANE.
MMAFighting score the round 10-8 Oliveira.
Round 2: How Ferguson didn’t tap to that is insane. His arm has to be broken. And that appears to be confirmed as to start the second round he is not doing anything with his left arm. A kick from Ferguson gets caught and Oliveira scores a takedown into full guard. Oliveira is posturing up but Ferguson lands an illegal kick to the head and Mark Smith stops the bout. Oliveira is bleeding from a cut above the eye caused by an elbow.
The action resumes and Mark Smith starts them in the same standing guard position. Oliveira is looking to pass and Ferguson is trying to scramble but he can’t get out from underneath Oliveira. Oliveira is gliding with him, landing shots, and just all around beating up Ferguson. Ferguson continues to try to move but he’s going nowhere. Oliveira isn’t landing any huge shots here but he’s going full Khabib, controlling position and landing shots as they come.
With only a minute left, Oliveira remains on top in north-south position with Ferguson holding on and Oliveira peppering him with shots. And that’s how the round ends.
MMAFighting score the round 10-9 Oliveira, 20-17 Oliveira overall.
Round 3: Ferguson absolutely needs a stoppage to win this fight and with one functioning arm, that seems unlikely. But Ferguson is damn sure gonna try. He comes out moving forward and Oliveira is moving around the outside and landing kicks. Ferguson throws his own kick and Oliveira catches. Ferguson attempts to gramby roll out but Oliveira stays with him and then scores the takedown against the fence.
Now Oliveira is in top position and working his way to mount. Ferguson is just out of his depth here. Oliveira moves to side control and then, after some work, gets back to the mount. Ferguson forces a scramble thought and he’s on top, EXCEPT OLIVEIRA HAS A TRIANGLE LOCKED IN. Tony is getting schooled on the floor here and that triangle is deep, with a lot of time. Ferguson rolls to his back and now Oliveira is looking for the arm again but Ferguson creates enough space and scrambles out. Wow! What heart from Ferguson but now he’s on the bottom of Oliveira again.
Oliveira is in side control and again looking to move but Ferguson sneaks out the back door to get on top, and Oliveira adjusts and then slams Ferguson down to stop the transition. Ferguson cannot win this. Oliveira again in north-south. Now he moves to side control and again looking to go to mount. Ferguson remains as game as they come but he’s just out of his depth here and the bell ends it.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Oliveira, 30-26 Oliveira overall.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Charles Oliveira defeats Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26).