Justin Gaethje
The Highlight


Shocks MMA world, Khabib next
May 9, 2020
Gaethje won the interim UFC Lightweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Tony Ferguson via TKO (strikes) at 3:39 of Round 5 at UFC 249 in Jacksonville.
It was the best and most complete performance of Gaethje's career. That includes all his fights in the UFC and his time with what was the former WSOF. He pounded Ferguson over and over and did so in an educated and economical fashion. This fight would have been over in the early rounds if it wasn't for Ferguson's super-human toughness. He actually never gave it up, as referee Herb Dean was finally forced to stop the fight in order to protect Tony from himself. Yes, Gaethje absorbed punishment from Ferguson, but he wasn't reckless about it. He appeared to make a concerted effort to fight smarter and he admitted in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he needed to change and adapt in order to be successful. He deserves full marks and then some for doing what is necessary in order to secure the biggest victory of his life. Next up for Gaethje is an undisputed title fight against pound-for-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov. He's going to be a significant underdog when that one happens, but maybe he has a chance given his new willingness to adapt to his circumstances. Furthermore, Gaethje was awarded both Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses in this one, giving him nine total post-fight bonuses despite only having seven UFC bouts.
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UFC 249 bout rescheduled for May 9
April 24, 2020
Gaethje is set to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on the rescheduled date of May 9, Shaheen Al-Shatti of The Athletic reports.
Gaethje was originally scheduled to fight Ferguson on short notice in early April, but he'll get a slightly longer opportunity to prepare this time around as the replacement for Khabib Nurmagomedov in a bout for the interim lightweight belt before Khabib gets a chance to defend his title later in the year. Gaethje has taken home victories early via KO/TKO in each of his last three bouts, finishing each of them in the first round. He may find it difficult to have similar success against Ferguson, whose only UFC loss came at the hand of Michael Johnson back in 2012. Oddsmakers peg Gaethje as approximately a (+145) betting underdog, similar to where he was sitting for the originally-scheduled matchup.
UFC 249 canceled
April 9, 2020
Gaethje will no longer face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 due to the cancellation of the event, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
UFC president Dana White indicated that he remains fully willing to promote the event, but things were taken out of his control. It's unclear when Gaethje or any other fighter will be allowed back in an Octagon, as all future events have been indefinitely postponed due to concerns with COVID-19. Considering Gaethje was a very late replacement for Khabib Nurmagomedov, it's within the realm of possibility that the UFC simply elects to scrap this matchup and proceed with the original plan at a later date.
Officially added to UFC 249
April 6, 2020
Gaethje will take on Tony Ferguson for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship at UFC 249 on April 18.
This was originally supposed to be a title matchup between Ferguson and current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but with Nurmagomedov stuck in Russia and unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC had to go to Plan B. No location has been officially announced for this event, but it sounds like the company has something in place, given Ferguson had previously implied he wouldn't sign without a location. As of Monday afternoon, Gaethje is approximately a (+125) betting underdog in the sportsbooks that had been taking action on this proposed matchup. He's been a very fantasy-friendly fighter during his time with the company, however, averaging 8.57 significant strikes landed per minute during his six-fight run. Gaethje also has a wrestling background he has yet to use, and expect that to remain the same given how dangerous Ferguson is off his back. If Gaethje can come through victorious as the underdog here, he would be lined up to face Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout later in 2020.
Offered fight at UFC 249
March 30, 2020
Gaethje (foot) has been offered a fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
Ferguson was scheduled to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight belt on April 18 in Brooklyn, New York, but with the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the nation and New York getting hid harder than most, that location ultimately needed to be changed. While UFC President Dana White continues to insist they will hold an event that date, it won't be headlined by a long-anticipated Khabib-Ferguson matchup. With Khabib unable to leave Russia -- which has closed its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 -- he'll no longer be able to travel to whichever destination the promotion chooses. Instead, the UFC has reached out to Gaethje to try and salvage a main event, though that will admittedly be a tough sell without an official location. White had said as recently as last week that a location was close to being secured, but he has yet to announce it to the public. Gaethje vs. Ferguson would be an exceptional fight with a high volume of striking expected, but there remain significant logistical concerns to making this fight happen in just a few weeks. If it does happen, it remains unclear whether any type of belt would be on the line, as it may be something the company uses as a negotiating tactic.
Needs X-rays on foot
September 17, 2019
Gaethje has been suspended indefinitely by the British Columbia Athletic Commission pending a physician's clearance for a right foot injury, MMAFighting.com reports.
It seems highly unlikely Gaethje's absence will last until next March, but the commission will force him to get an x-ray on his foot just to be safe. Assuming he's cleared there, Gaethje and his management team will have some major decisions to make regarding what happens next. He openly called for the winner of a prospective fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, but that would require some extended time on the shelf considering that matchup doesn't have an official date yet. Should he wish to fight sooner, the promotion seemed to hint heavily that a fight against Conor McGregor would be on the table. Gaethje said during the post-fight show that he intends to take a little time off anyway, and typically requires roughly 10-to-12 weeks to have a proper training camp. Regardless of how it shakes out, any prospective announcement involving Gaethje would end up being one of the biggest fights the promotion could put on in 2019 (or 2020).