Fans had wanted to see Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson as much as any other fight in UFC.
Thanks to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249, there’s a good chance they never will.
Gaethje stepped into the breach after Nurmagomedov could not travel from Russia and was forced to pull out of facing Ferguson for the fifth time.
Ferguson was the betting favourite heading into the UFC 249 headliner, but what ensued was a masterclass from Gaethje that shocked the MMA world.
Gaethje dominated Ferguson from start to finish, save for an uppercut that dropped him at the end of the second round.
By the time he was done with El Cucuy, Ferguson’s whole face was a mess and the referee had to intervene to save him from serious injury.
Truth be told, it’s incredible that Ferguson was not put down sooner. He ate maybe a dozen shots that nobody else would have been able to take.
Almost immediately after the fight, Gaethje attempted to hug Ferguson and console him after the loss, but Ferguson pushed the new interim lightweight champion away.
Gaethje said: “Being an a**hole gets you nowhere” as it looked like tempers might flare.
However, once the initial disappointment subsided a little, Ferguson found it within himself to embrace Gaethje. The new interim champ then told Ferguson he loved him, and the pair seemingly made amends.
Gaethje said in no uncertain terms after the fight that he wants to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title next and “that’s the only fight’ he’s thinking about.
Conor McGregor seems like he would be better served chasing a third fight with Nate Diaz as opposed to trying to interrupt the lightweight title party right now.
Of course, the Irishman has already has his shot at Khabib and he was dominated for the most part before submitted in the fourth round.
Gaethje, like McGregor, is a striker first and foremost and presents the same kind of challenge to Khabib.