Nobody appreciates violence more than Justin Gaethje. That is exactly what the 31-year-old is expecting when he faces Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 this weekend.
Gaethje (21-2) accepted a last-minute booking for the interim UFC Lightweight Title. During the UFC 249 media call this past week, “The Highlight” stated he welcomed the challenge of the unknown. He also stated he is ready for his nose to be broken by Ferguson (25-3), known for his vicious shots to the face.
“I’m going to get elbowed,” Gaethje recently stated to MMA Fighting. “I’d be a fool to go in there and think I’m going to get out of there unscathed. Nine of 10 times, that’s not going to happen.”
The winner of the fight would most likely be facing Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed UFC Lightweight Title. Khabib is a wrestling machine and has won ten fights via submission. Undefeated since joining the UFC in 2012, Khabib (28-0) has decimated everyone he has faced. Still, Gaethje believes trying to figure out Ferguson will be a lot harder than Khabib.
“I think the puzzle is going to be harder,” Gaethje went on to say. “There’s so many unknows with Tony. You know what Khabib is going to do, and that’s going to be take you down, try to push you against the fence. And if not, he’s going to try and take shots from the space in the middle of the octagon.
“I believe that he can’t take me down in the middle of the octagon, and I can stay off the fence. So that puzzle is written. How do you beat Tony? I don’t know. I’m going to find out.”
Gaethje last fought in September, beating Donald Cerrone via TKO. He is on a three-fight win streak and is 4-2 in the UFC. A former World Series of Fighting Lightweight Champion, Gaethje has taken a lot of damage. WIth 18 wins via knockout, he has also given it.
Since losing his fourth fight with the UFC, Ferguson has gone on a 12-fight win streak. It has been over 2,920 days since his last loss. Despite all of this, Gaethje believes he has what it takes to get the job done.
“We have seen him get hit, we’ve never seen him get finished,” Gaethje said. “No one ever put Edson to sleep like he did it. I know how hard it’s going to be to find the shot, but it only takes one, and I possess the skills and the power to land it. Tony is a very unique fighter, and it’s going to take time and patience to figure out how to be successful.”
UFC 249 takes place this weekend, May 9, inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.