ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith has a theory as to why Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson didn’t engage much in the grappling department.
On May 9, Gaethje and Ferguson did battle in the UFC 249 headliner. “The Highlight” served as a replacement opponent. Ferguson was initially set to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title. Gaethje vs. Ferguson was contested for the interim UFC 155-pound gold. Gaethje ended up scoring a fifth-round TKO victory.
Stephen A. Shares Theory On Lack Of Grappling In Gaethje vs. Ferguson
During an edition of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. expressed his belief that Gaethje and Ferguson were hesitant to grapple due to the coronavirus pandemic (h/t Bloody Elbow).
“There was so much striking I was surprised there wasn’t a little bit more wrestling,” Smith said. “Then I remembered with the coronavirus pandemic coming on, in my mind my attitude is that guys were a bit reluctant to grapple as little as necessary.”
Stephen A. has been known to ruffle some feathers in the world of sports. Many within the MMA community believe he showcased his ignorance when he said he was “disgusted” by Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s performance against Conor McGregor back in January. McGregor stopped Cerrone in 40 seconds via TKO.
UFC 249 also featured a bantamweight title bout in the co-main event. Henry Cejudo put his 135-pound gold on the line against Dominick Cruz. “Triple C” successfully defended his bantamweight title via second-round TKO.
Also featured on the main card of UFC 249 was a heavyweight tilt between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The bout only lasted 20 seconds as Ngannou knocked Rozenstruik out cold.
The main card of UFC 249 also saw Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens and Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro. Kattar earned a second-round TKO victory over Stephens, while Hardy nabbed the unanimous decision win over De Castro.