Justin Gaethje Explains Why He Took Tony Ferguson Fight: ‘I’m Facing My Fears’

Dana White
Photos via Instagram @tonyfergusonxt @justingaethje

Gaethje Ready To Gamble Against Ferguson

Justin Gaethje knew what he was in for when he signed the dotted line.

“The Highlight” will take on Tony Ferguson on short notice when they meet for the interim lightweight title in the UFC 249 headliner on April 18. Considering Gaethje previously rejected a fight with Ferguson last year because it was on short notice, he is taking a big risk this time — especially during a worldwide pandemic.

However, with a title on the line and the chance to face lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov with a win, it was a gamble he had to take.

“Every time I’ve ever fought, there’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns that we’re dealing with right now,” Gaethje told TMZ. “So it’s really a terrifying moment. And I’m talking about the competition side — I know what I’m facing. Tony’s been getting ready for Khabib Nurmagomedov, to fight for a world title, for the last three, four, five months. I don’t know how long, doesn’t matter. 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. That’s what we all need to do.

“… I haven’t [taken a fight on such short-notice like this]. But I also haven’t been offered a UFC title and 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, very few people on earth 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 will not put their name on that dotted line.”

Although Gaethje has repeatedly spoken in the past of how terrifying Ferguson is as an opponent, he believes he has nothing to lose and everything to gain on April 18.

“They called me, my coach said ‘you don’t take late replacement fights,’” Gaethje added. “I said ‘you’re right, let’s sleep on it.’ The next morning I woke up, I said ‘if I lose, where are we at?’ For me, it’s in the same exact spot I’m in right now. I’m going to go out there, get a paycheck which is nice. But ultimately, I get a chance at glory. Heroes lives forever and 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, because my work ethic and because of the skills I possess.”

In the end, Gaethje is disappointed that Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson didn’t come to fruition. However, he believes any MMA fan would be pleased with this matchup — and it’s certainly hard to argue with that.

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