Justin Gaethje explains decision to “gamble” on short-notice Ferguson fight

Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor

Justin Gaethje has accepted a short-notice, interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson, arguably the scariest man in the division. The pair will collide in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18.

Speaking to TMZ Sports, Gaethje explained his decision to accept this fight with Ferguson — despite being admittedly “terrified” by the situation.

“There’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns that we’re dealing with right now,” Gaethje began. “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. It doesn’t matter. But it’s perfect, because I always think they’re working harder, I think they’re better than me, I always think they’re luckier than me, but I love facing adversity. I’m facing my fears right now. That’s what we all need to do.

“I haven’t [ever taken a fight on such short-notice],” Gaethje added. “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 few people on earth who would sign up for what me and Tony just signed up for — including most fighters. A lot of guys will say that they’re ready but will not put their name on that dotted line.”

Gaethje continued, explaining that he doesn’t believe a loss against Ferguson will set him back all that much.

“They called me, my coach said ‘you don’t take late replacement fights,'” Gaethje continued. “I said ‘you’re right, let’s sleep on it.’ The next morning I said ‘if I lose, where are we at?’ For me it’s in the same exact spot I’m in right now.”

Gaethje also sees this as an opportunity to earn his place in the history books.

“I’m going to go out there — I get a paycheck, which is nice — but ultimately I get a chance at glory,” he added. “Heroes lives forever and legends never die, and I’m literally here to make a statement. My name will carry on far longer after I’m here because of my effort because my work ethic and because of the skills I possess.”

Do you think Justin Gaethje made the right move accepting this short-notice fight with Tony Ferguson?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/7/2020.