Justin Gaethje
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Will face Khabib at UFC 255
LightweightUFC
July 28, 2020
UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday that Gaethje (22-2-0) will take on Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0-0) in a lightweight bout scheduled for Oct. 24 at UFC 255, Simon Head of USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
After Nurmagomedov elected to withdraw from his fight with Tony Ferguson in April at UFC 249, Gaethje stepped in and turned in the most electrifying performance of his career, winning the bout via TKO in the fifth round and claiming the interim title in the process. He'll now get the chance to test himself about Nurmagomedov, who returns to the Octagon for the first time in more than a year after the recent death of his father and coach, Abdulmanap, prompted the Russian champion to forgo a matchup with Gaethje this summer. Gaethje will carry a four-fight winning streak into the Oct. 24 event, which will be held at a yet-to-be-determined venue.
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Khabib fight to happen before end of 2020
LightweightUFC
July 18, 2020
Ali Abdelaziz, the manager of Khabib Nurmagomedov, stated Saturday that his client anticipates fighting Gaethje before the year ends, The Daily Mail reports.
ANALYSIS
After Gaethje took down Tony Ferguson via TKO in the UFC Lightweight Championship on May 9, it was only fitting that his next opponent for the title be Nurmagomedov. After his father passed away earlier in July due to Covid-19 complications, Nurmagomedov announced that he would be stepping away from the UFC for some time to mourn his loss. There was no clarity as to when he'd be returning until his manager made the announcement Saturday. It is now up to UFC President Dana White to establish a date and venue for the fight. Gaethje will soon have his chance to defend his belt and end Nurmagomedov's perfect 28-0-0 MMA record.
Shocks MMA world, Khabib next
LightweightUFC
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.
ANALYSIS
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.
UFC 249 bout rescheduled for May 9
LightweightUFC
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.
ANALYSIS
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
LightweightUFC
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.
ANALYSIS
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
LightweightUFC
April 6, 2020
Gaethje will take on Tony Ferguson for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship at UFC 249 on April 18.
ANALYSIS
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.