Ferguson back in title picture after TKO win against Pettis

Tony Ferguson defeated Anthony Pettis by TKO on Saturday after Pettis broke his right hand midfight. AP Photo/John Locher

LAS VEGAS -- Tony Ferguson probably needed something special to earn a shot at the UFC's lightweight title. There's no doubt, Saturday was special.

In an instant Fight of the Year candidate, Ferguson (24-3) defeated Anthony Pettis (21-8) at UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena via second-round TKO when Pettis' corner waved off the bout between the second and third round.

Pettis' coach, Duke Roufus, called the fight due to an injured hand to Pettis. It marks Ferguson's first bout since he was stripped of his interim lightweight title in April, after pulling out of a bout with a serious knee injury. He underwent surgery that same month and returned in five short months.

"Where you at McNuggets?" screamed Ferguson, referring to Irish star Conor McGregor. "You piece of s---. I'll whup your a--. If Khabib doesn't, I will."

McGregor (21-3) is scheduled to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) in the night's main event.

Ferguson fought in his typical, ultra-aggressive style from the opening bell. He marched straight at Pettis, with front kicks and jabs. Pettis did a decent job keeping Ferguson at range early with footwork and counter-striking but eventually found himself caught along the fence, taking damage.

The tide turned early in the second round, when Pettis dropped Ferguson twice with right hands. After the second punch landed, Ferguson barrel-rolled forward and pulled Pettis into his guard. Pettis suffered a cut near his hairline in the exchange and began bleeding all over Ferguson, who was scrambling beneath him.

At one point, Pettis, who is also a former lightweight champion, lifted his face toward the ceiling and stuck his tongue out.

Ferguson, of Oxnard, California, eventually worked back to his feet with up-kicks and resumed his relentless pressure. He stuck Pettis on the fence and unloaded everything he had, including highlight elbows on the inside. Pettis threw back in defense and even cartwheeled into a kick near the end of the round.

It is Ferguson's 11th win in a row and the 11th knockout finish of his career.

Reyes remains unbeaten after controversial result

Call it an unofficial knockout for Dominick Reyes.

Reyes (10-0) defeated Ovince Saint Preux (23-12) by unanimous decision, even though Reyes dropped Saint Preux with a walk-off left hand in the final second of the bout. Referee Dan Miragliotta did not immediately step in as Saint Preux went down, and the fight was ruled to have gone the distance.

All three judges scored it an easy victory for Reyes, via scores of 30-27. He thwarted Saint Preux's attempts to get it to the ground throughout and lit him up on the feet. Saint Preux, one of the most consistent fighters in the division for years, struggled to keep his back off the fence.

A former collegiate football player at Stony Brook University, Reyes improves to 4-0 in the UFC, with three finishes. He showed a great deal of poise on Saturday, especially late. Saint Preux grew noticeably aggressive in the third, realizing he was down on the scorecards.

For Saint Preux, it drops his record to 4-3 since the start of 2017. He submitted Tyson Pedro in his most recent fight prior to UFC 229, in June.

Lewis knocks out Volkov in final seconds at UFC 229

Heavyweight Derrick Lewis took a thorough beating at the hands of Alexander Volkov for nearly three full rounds -- emphasis on "nearly."

Lewis (21-5) shocked Volkov (30-7) with a comeback, knockout win at the 4:49 mark of the final round. Despite appearing hurt multiple times in the fight, Lewis kept Volkov honest with his one-punch-knockout power and then landed a perfect right hand to the chin to steal it away late.

It's a devastating result for Volkov, who out-struck Lewis 86 to 32 overall. He had him hurt as early as the first round, after landing shots to the body and a slick counter right. The bout was paused briefly in the first, after Lewis complained of an eye poke. Volkov kept a steady pressure on Lewis with the jab and mixed his strikes well to the body and head.

Lewis looked tired and a bit dejected at times, but when he chose to come forward, it was obvious his power had an effect on Volkov. The last right hand put Volkov down in the center of the cage, and a few follow-up shots ended the fight.

It's a nice rebound performance for Lewis, after a slow-paced, heavily criticized decision win against Francis Ngannou in July. Lewis admitted after the bout, in which he and Ngannou barely threw any strikes, that he went in with a back injury.

Lewis, of Houston, has now won nine of his past 10. Volkov had been closing in on a title shot before the loss, with a 4-0 record in the UFC.

Waterson edges Herrig in pivotal strawweight bout

Strawweight Michelle Waterson (16-6) turned in a well-rounded effort to defeat Felice Herrig (14-8) by unanimous decision, via scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28.

Following a slow first round that saw both women feel the other out, Waterson seized clear control in the second and third.

The Jackson-Wink MMA fighter took Herrig down in the second frame and scored points with elbows. Herrig scored a takedown of her own late in the fight, but Waterson quickly reversed it and worked back to her feet.

Other than forcing Waterson into clinches along the fence, Herrig struggled to get consistent offense. Waterson out-landed Herrig in total strikes 113 to 76. It is her second win in a row, after dropping back-to-back in 2017 to Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas.

Formiga defeats Pettis by decision, calls for title shot

Brazilian veteran Jussier Formiga (22-5) took one step closer to a 125-pound title shot and halted any momentum behind the 25-year-old Sergio Pettis (17-4) in the process.

All three judges scored it in Formiga's favor: 30-26, 29-28 and 29-28. He did his best work in the third round, as he was able to take Pettis' back as he was still standing and refused to give up the position until the end of the round.

Formiga, who extends his win streak to three, out-landed Pettis in total strikes 100 to 65. Pettis managed to defend some of his takedown attempts in the early rounds, but it was obvious the Brazilian's grappling kept him out of any rhythm. While Pettis never appeared to be in any danger in the fight, he struggled to control where it took place.

Formiga is in strong title contention, with an overall UFC record of 8-4. Pettis, of Milwaukee, takes a big step back. Before Saturday's loss, he scored a major decision win against Joseph Benavidez in June.