Gaethje, Ferguson And Dana Comment On New UFC 249 Main Event
Yesterday, the UFC announced that Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje would fight in the UFC 249 main event, for the interim lightweight title. In one of the craziest days in UFC history, UFC president Dana White also revealed that he was securing a private island to hold international fights on.
Speaking to TMZ Sports, Gaethje opened up on accepting the fight on less than three weeks notice, in the current crazy situation the world finds itself in right now.
“Every time I’ve ever fought, there’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns we’re dealing with right now. It’s just really a terrifying moment. And I’m talking about the competition side, I know what I’m facing.”
With the UFC number one lightweight contender Ferguson on a twelve fight win streak, and having had a full training camp, challenges don’t get much tougher. But Gaethje wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Tony’s been getting ready to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, to fight for a world title. But it’s perfect because I always think they’re working harder, I always think they’re better than me, I always think they’re luckier than me and I love to face adversity. So I’m facing my fears right now and I think that’s what we all need to do.”
After Khabib Nurmagomedov all but ruled himself out of the April 18th card last week as a result of being stuck in Russia because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was speculated that Gaethje had been offered the Ferguson fight. But having always refused short notice fights in the past, there was a doubt whether he would accept.
“No, I haven’t [taken a short notice fight before] but I’ve also never been offered a UFC title. That’s the only thing I’m working for. That’s all I’ve been working for since the beginning, so I’m ready to gamble. There’s very few people who would sign up for what me and Tony just signed up for. Including most UFC fighters. A lot of guys will say that they’re ready but a lot of guys would not put their name on that dotted line.
“They called me, my coach said no, not no, but my coach said, ‘You don’t take late replacement fights’. I said, ‘You’re right,’ so I was like, ‘Let’s sleep on it.’ The next morning I woke up, I said, ‘If I lose, where are we at?’ And for me it’s in the same exact spot I’m at right now.”
There had been speculation that Gaethje would fight Conor McGregor in the summer, with the winner getting the next title shot. However, ‘The Highlight’ gets to fight for the belt in under two weeks time. And the 31 year old realises that this is an opportunity to ensure his name goes down in history as a UFC champion.
“I’m gonna go out there and get a pay cheque, which is nice, but ultimately, I get a chance for glory. Heroes live forever, legends never die, and I’m literally here to make a statement. My name will be carried on far longer after I’m here because of my effort, my work ethic and the skills I possess.”
With Gaethje and Ferguson being two of the most exciting fighters in the world, the possible ways the fight plays out are endless, and Justin is content with all potential scenarios.
“Tony brings many challenges. I’m looking forward to facing adversity in there. I literally know he thrives in dark places and I consider myself to also thrive in dark places. As disappointing as it is that Khabib and Tony aren’t happening, if you’re a fan of MMA, then you’re an idiot if you’re not excited about this fight. I got the perfect dance partner that I dream about. He drives in dark places, he doesn’t get tired, he’s got cardio for days and I hit like a Mack Truck. So when I hit him, he’ll go to sleep.
“I possess some of the best finishing skills on the UFC roster. I’m gonna attack his body, I’m gonna attack his legs and whenever he’s worried about those I’m gonna punch him in the head and hopefully, he goes to sleep. If not, he’s probably going to cut me up with some elbows, probably choke me out late in the fight, if I don’t put him to sleep. I’m content with every single one of those scenarios as long as I get to go in there and I don’t disappoint myself, or my family. That’s my only goal.”
In the last few hours, Gaethje’s dance partner Tony Ferguson has posted his own UFC 249 promo, where he states he’s going to hit Justin so hard, he’s going to see star.
“Khabib was gonna get his ass kicked, but he’s no longer in the picture as far as I’m concerned. We got Justin Gaethje. They call him ‘The Highlight’. I’m gonna give him a highlight of his own. I’m gonna hit him so hard, that dude is gonna see stars.”
With Ferguson and Gaethje now facing off at UFC 249 for the interim belt, Dana has confirmed that the winner will face Khabib later in the year. This leaves McGregor a little in limbo. Speaking to ESPN, the UFC boss implied that if Conor wants to fight Khabib or for the 155lbs belt next, he’s going to have a long wait.
“Everybody felt that if Conor was going to get a shot at Khabib that actually Gaethje should get it before Conor. I mean it couldn’t have worked out any better. You get Gaethje vs. Tony. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s two of the top guys in the world. Khabib is out so the winner will face Khabib.
“This impacts everybody. There’s three fights that have already been postponed, we’re going to work out over the next several weeks and I don’t know where this puts anybody. Conor really wants that rematch with Khabib. Well Khabib and Tony or Gaethje won’t fight now until probably September.”
Speaking a couple of weeks ago, when UFC 249 looked a lot less certain to go ahead, Joe Rogan stated on his podcast that he wouldn’t be there. Dana however, told TMZ Sports that he will definitely be there.
“They heard him writing on a podcast, so they start writing stories off the podcast that are full of s***. Rogan will be there.”
Who do you think will leave UFC 249 the interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson or Justin Gaethje?