There’s a new main event for UFC 249 on April 18, and the new headliner admitted via social media he was “terrified” of competing in the event (presumably because of the COVID-19 pandemic) but that he was doing it “for the people.” UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje is replacing UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18 at a location to be determined. Gaethje is facing Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 249 in a massively important fight for both contenders.
UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje
UFC 249 now features Ferguson vs. Gaethje. It’s not quite the massive showdown fans wanted but it’s still an incredibly important fight in the 155-pound division. That the UFC could pull off such a high stakes main event during the COVID-19 pandemic at all would be an impressive feat.
Ferguson is ranked No. 1 in the 155-pound division. The 36-year-old American who lives and trains in Southern California has won 12 straight UFC contests dating back to 2012. Sure, Ferguson had long coveted a showdown against 155-pound champ Nurmagomedov, but now he’ll get 31-year-old American contender Gaethje instead in an important interim title bout.
Gaethje lives and trains in Colorado. The popular 31-year-old contender has won three straight UFC contests against Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and James Vick. Moreover, Gaethje is one of the most aggressive and exciting fighters in the world. He’s considered a nightmare matchup for most lightweights right now, and he gets the chance at UFC 249 to capture his first UFC lightweight title.
Additionally, Gaethje had long been rumored as the likely next opponent for Conor McGregor, but now it appears the American is instead moving straight toward Ferguson so he can earn the interim championship along with the conditional shot at fighting for undisputed status later this year.
Both Gaethje and Nurmagomedov are managed by Ali Abdelaziz. If Gaethje beats Ferguson, he could easily get the next crack at Nurmagomedov or he could still seek the lucrative showdown against McGregor.
As the UFC’s new interim lightweight champion, Gaethje would have a ton of options. The same would hold true for Ferguson.
Where Will UFC 249 Happen?
The location for UFC 249 has not yet been announced. UFC president Dana White has only revealed the venue will be on “earth” though most expect the event to take place somewhere with in the U.S. In fact, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the UFC is targeting a venue on the West Coast for the card.
UFC 249 would likely take place on a closed set with no fans. Additionally, it has been suggested the event might take place on tribal grounds where the organizers wouldn’t have to adhere to the regulations of the local state athletic commissions. That last piece is important because most state regulators in charge of combat sports have suspended action entirely at the present.
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