The UFC lightweight division has been plunged into chaos after Justin Gaethje caused a stunning boilover to steal the interim title from Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was a short-priced favourite to walk through Gaethje and finally cement his highly anticipated showdown with Khabib Nurmagomev – but those plans turned to dust when Gaethje pummelled his opponent over five devastating rounds.

The fight was stoped in the fifth round when a jab appeared to daze Ferguson. Referee Herb Dean jumped in to end the fight after Ferguson was made to eat a staggering number of shots to the face.

Ferguson angrily screamed when the stoppage was enforced, but UFC commentator Joe Rogan praised the stoppage on compassionate grounds.

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The Californian freak had never been beaten up this badly before Sunday's main event in Florida.

"That is as stunned as we've ever seen Tony Ferguson in his career," Rogan said.

That was putting it nicely.

Legendary champion Daniel Cormier said after the fight: "He beat up the boogie man. He just beat him up.

"Sometimes the referee has to save the fighter from himself. That's what happened."

Ferguson's face was badly cut up and swollen during the second round and he never appeared to be in control as the fight headed into the championship rounds.

Gaethje's punishing performance left commentators stunned. Even champion Nurmagomedov liked what he saw.

The event reached fever-pitch before the main event after bantamweight superstar Henry Cejudo defended his crown with a thunderous TKO stoppage of Dominic Cruz before he dropped a bombshell by announcing his immediate retirement.

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Cejudo dropped Cruz with a devastating blow, before he continued to land shots to Cruz's head as the former champion tried to scramble back to his feet.

Cruz was filthy that the fight was called early when the referee rushed in to stop Cejudo landing shots as Cruz briefly stopped defending himself as he used to hands to attempt to push himself off the ground.

However, the controversy was quickly forgotten as Cejudo followed the win by announcing his retirement.

The 33-year-old told a stunned Joe Rogan inside the Octagon:"I'm happy with my career, I want to walk away. I'm 33, I have a girl back home.

"Triple-C is out."

Tony Ferguson was stunned in the title fight. Photo / Getty
Tony Ferguson was stunned in the title fight. Photo / Getty

Cejudo's claim was immediately questioned by Rogan, who suggested Cejudo's decision to retire on the spot could be linked to his earlier rumblings that he was not being paid enough by the fight promotion.

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ESPN's UFC commentator Ariel Helwani wrote on Twitter: "I know Cejudo really wanted a big pay raise after beating Moraes, and he didn't get that. That bugged him. One wonders if his announcement tonight had anything to do with that".

Francis Ngannou KOs Jairzinho Rozenstruik

UFC weapon Francis Ngannou has secured his fourth consecutive first round knockout in savage fashion as he ended Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds.

The former heavyweight title contender left the UFC stunned as he clipped Rozenstruik with a left hand cross as his opponent was back-pedalling towards the cage.

The shot immediately dropped Rozenstruik and the referee was able to rush in top stop the fight just as Ngannou's follow-up strike was about to land.

The devastating finish is the quickest of Ngannou's career and officially the equal 10th fastest in the history of the heavyweight division.

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There were fears Ngannou's career could be over after he followed up his title defeat to Stipe Miocic with an infamously pathetic and lifeless loss to Derrick Lewis — but the scariest man in the UFC is very much back.

Since his loss to Lewis, Ngannou has now recorded four straight first round knockouts against ranked opponents, screaming for another title shot.

Ngannou's last four opponents have lasted 45 seconds, 26 seconds, 71 seconds and 20 seconds.

The UFC world was also screaming on his behalf on Sunday after he unleashed his devastating punching power on Rozenstruik.

The display stunned UFC legend Daniel Cormier and star commentator Joe Rogan.

"Holy smokes. Ngannou has freak power like nobody else in the division," Rogan said.

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"He just puts you in a firefight you cannot win. You've got a gun and he's holding a bazooka."

The No. 2 ranked heavyweight only has eyes for the belt.

Positive test

UFC boss Dana White has been bullish about continuing to schedule fights during the global pandemic but a spanner was thrown into the works yesterday when Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.

His middleweight fight against Uriah Hall on the undercard won't go ahead, but the rest of the bouts will despite concerns about what the positive test would mean for other fighters.

Hall is upset not to be fighting but his thoughts were with his rival's wellbeing. "Brother I know it sucks I'm sorry you have to go through this I am beyond devastated for the missed opportunity I wish you nothing but recovery for you and your family," he wrote on Twitter.

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The event started in explosive fashion as Ryan Spann and Sam Alvey threw down in a wild opener. Spann won via split decision in a see-sawing contest that could have gone the other way when Alvey unleashed a barrage of blows late in the third round, only for the bell to come to Spann's rescue.

The thrilling fight was just an entree to a staggering bloodbath that erupted in the third fight of the card between Vicente Luque and Niko Price.

Luque left Price's face a bloody mess as he secured a TKO win via a doctor's stoppage late in the third round.

The three-round war went back and forth before a sweet left hook from Luque landed flash on the side of Price's face and almost immediately closed his right eye with some gruesome bruising and swelling.

Price tried to fight on, but the fight was eventually stopped by the doctor. After a quick investigation of Price's eye, it was clear he couldn't see anything out of the closed-up socket and the fight was declared unsafe to continue.

In crazy scenes, Price tried to keep fighting, despite blood gushing out of a cut on his eyelid. He also smiled as the TKO decision was made official.

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Luque was officially awarded the victory via a TKO.

The main card is expected to get going at around 2pm.

UFC stunned by 'utterly ridiculous' beast

The action went up another gear when rising featherweight star Bryce Mitchell stepped into the Octagon and executed one of the most dominant displays seen in the promotion recently.

Mitchell annihilated Charles Rosa in an extremely rare case of a judges' scorecard finishing 30-24 with all three rounds being awarded to Mitchell as dominant rounds.

Two of the three judges awarded the fight to Mitchell with two dominant rounds 30-25.

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According to UFC Stats, Mitchell finished the 15-minute fight having held ground control for a staggering 13mins and 59 secs.

The insanely dominant grappling performance sent a message to the rest of the featherweight division.

"That was an utterly ridiculous performance from Bryce Mitchell," MMA Fighting's Damon Martin posted on Twitter.

"I thought that fight would be a war. Instead it was the Red Wedding of grappling."

The fight also perplexed combat sport guru Kevin Iole, who admitted the fight had him reaching for the record book.

"Has there ever been three 10-8s in a three-round UFC fight, because we may be about to see one," he posted on Twitter.

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Rogan brings the laughs

Commentator Joe Rogan described the "eerie" setting of fighting with nobody in the stands and the veteran caller is getting used to what life's like amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Out of habit he shook Ryan Spann's hand after he won the first fight against Sam Alvey – a no-no these days – then instead of presenting the victor as he normally would to the "ladies and gentlemen" in the audience, Rogan improvised, much to the amusement of his colleagues.

"Ryan Spann … to no one in the audience," he said.