Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje title fight headlines UFC 249 ‘somewhere on Earth’

April 6, 2020

Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje is signed, sealed, and about to be delivered at UFC 249 on April 18… “somewhere on Earth.”

UFC President Dana White has been adamant that he would pull off UFC 249 in some form or fashion on April 18. He has yet to reveal a location, but on Monday, White revealed that a bout between Ferguson and Gaethje has been inked and the two will fight for the interim UFC lightweight championship.

“The fight is signed and is 100% ON LIVE on ESPN somewhere on EARTH!!!! (Tony Ferguson) vs (Justin Gaethje) is LIVE on ESPN+ PPV April 18th for the interim lightweight belt!” White revealed on Twitter.

Following Saturday’s conference call between U.S. President Donald Trump and various heads of the major sports leagues, including White, most felt that UFC 249 was going to get kicked to the curb until after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Instead, the UFC is moving full steam ahead to hold an even on April 18.

Why is Khabib Nurmagomedov out of the UFC 249 main event?

UFC 249 was originally slated to feature lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov putting his belt on the line opposite Ferguson.

Nurmagomedov, having initially been told that UFC 249 would not happen in the U.S., flew to the Abu Dhabi, where he thought it was likely to be held. When he arrived, Nurmagomedov was told that the country was locked down, so he then flew home to Russia, which also went into a lockdown situation because of the covid-19 pandemic.

With Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson on the sidelines, UFC officials moved to make the fight between Ferguson and fellow top contender Gaethje, who will now serve as the new UFC 249 main event and battle for a new belt. The winner would then presumably unify titles with Nurmagomedov later this year.

Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje’s championship credentials

Ferguson has already been an interim UFC champion. He won that designation by defeating Kevin Lee at UFC 216 in October 2017, but was later stripped of the title when he couldn’t fight because of injury. He currently stands at 25-3, having won 12 consecutive bouts, and most recently defeating Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

Gaethje’s record is 21-2. He was undefeated in the first 18 bouts of his professional career, including becoming the World Series of Fighting lightweight champion and defending that belt on five separate occasions. Gaethje is 4-2 under the UFC banner. He has won his last three bouts, knocking out James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Cerrone.

The rest of the UFC 249 fight card has yet to be revealed, although it is sure to take a drastically different shape than the original line-up, which was set to take place in Brooklyn, N.Y., before the pandemic knocked everything sideways.

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