Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s right eye swelled shut during his TKO loss to Tony Ferguson — and a chorus of boos followed doctors’ medical stoppage.
Henry Cejudo won the bantamweight belt in convincing fashion, then called for three head-scratching future opponents despite two top contenders winning fights earlier in the night.
Valentina Shevchenko’s head kick dropped Jessica Eye in one of the most devastating finishes in UFC history.
And UFC President Dana White gushed about the event’s reception in Chicago. The fight took in more than a $2 million at the gate and 16,083 attended. It wasn’t quite the sellout that last year’s UFC 225 drew (18,117 and a $2.5 million gate), but White still said he was pleased.
“I got here Wednesday. When’s the last time you saw me fight week on a Wednesday?” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get out here. The buzz for this card was huge, everybody was talking about it, and it lived up to the hype.”
Here are five takeaways from Saturday night’s card.
1. White played host to Chicago VIPs.
“Theo Epstein was here. (Anthony) Rizzo. I’m close to those two guys,” said White, referring to the Cubs president and first baseman, respectively. “I don’t know many of the other players. And I’m a Red Sox guy.”
Epstein and Rizzo were both part of the Red Sox organization.
The guest list included Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels and Bears Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Eddie Jackson. Chicago-area natives Felice Herrig and CM Punk, a current and former UFC fighter, were there.
“The support that this Cubs team gives every time we come here, Wrigley Field, I’ve never seen anything like it,” White said. He and Cejudo were invited to the ballpark and Cejudo threw out the first pitch. “The owner (Chairman Tom Ricketts) is a super humble, good guy. The coach (manager Joe Maddon), the players, the president (Esptein). They’re all really good people and we appreciate it.”
2. UFC 238 will have a ripple effect on at least two divisions.
Ferguson staked his claim as the top contender for either a Conor McGregor matchup or to challenge the winner of the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier in September.
“I got 12 fights in a row, I should be calling the (expletive) shots. I have the title already,” said Ferguson, referring to the title that was stripped because of injury in April 2018.
“If Dustin Poirier don’t do it, I’m going to do it, man. Tiramisu (his nickname for Nurmagomedov) needs (a butt)-whooping. If it’s McNuggets (McGregor) for a ‘money’ fight or whatever, he’s an athlete too.”
Meanwhile, Cejudo now owns the bantamweight and flyweight titles, a rare accomplishment, and White said he saw no reason why he can’t defend both.
No. 3 contender Aljamain Sterling made his case earlier that night to get a shot at the bantamweight belt with a win against Pedro Munhoz, as did Petr Yan against Jimmie Rivera.
But Cejudo wanted bigger names: Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber, and Cody Garbrandt.
“I’m on a legend rampage,” Cejudo said. “That’s what I want. I’m a legend killer. I want big fights. Dominick Cruz, you guys wouldn’t like Dominick Cruz versus Henry Cejudo? Doesn’t that sound exciting?”
White sounded less than convinced.
“I heard he was saying some nutty stuff on the mic,” White said. “Cruz is inured. Faber’s old. I don’t know. We’ll sit down with him and figure out what he’s talking about and see what we’ll do.”
3. White says doctors made the right call.
The UFC president said doctors followed the proper procedures in examining Cerrone and later stopping the fight. Cerrone suffered an orbital fracture and his eye swelled shut when he blew his nose.
But there was arguably as much or more buzz for Ferguson-Cerrone as there was for the main event, and the United Center crowd jeered the stoppage.
White said anyone in the arena who thought Cerrone should’ve continued the fight “should be beat with a stick.”
4. Chicago’s highs and lows in the cage.
Chicagoan Ricardo Lamas was dropped on a 1-2 combo by Calvin Kattar during the preliminaries.
“I really enjoyed the crowd cheering, even knowing that wasn’t for me,” Kattar said. “I like when the energy is that high. I was fearing nothing, it was fun to put on a show for them. Now I want anyone in the top 15.”
Meanwhile, Johnsburg resident Clay Guida’s classic 2009 fight against Diego Sanchez will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s “Fight Wing” in July as a part of the class of 2019, the company announced Saturday. Sanchez won the seesaw fight by split decision.
5. His kind of town, “Chicaga” is.
Yan, who’s Russian and mainly speaks to media through an interpreter, greeted the home crowd with a “Hello, Chicaga,” and of course, something like that doesn’t pass unnoticed on social media.
“Hehlo Chicaga!” - Petr Yan #ufc238,” one fan tweeted.