Justin Gaethje explained why his upcoming opponent, Tony Ferguson, will be a harder nut to crack than the lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
UFC 249 was originally expected to be headlined by a title bout between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson. However, travel complications surrounding the coronavirus pandemic resulted in Nurmagomedov’s withdrawal from the bout. Instead, Justin Gaethje will face Ferguson in the main event on May 9, in Jacksonville, Florida.
There are so many unpredictable weapons that “El Cucuy” could use in his UFC 249 fight, but Gaethje is certain we will see is Ferguson’s devastating elbows in play.
“I’m going to get elbowed,” Gaethje said to MMA Fighting. “I’d be a fool to go in there and think I’m going to get out of there unscathed. Nine of 10 times, that’s not going to happen.
“We have seen him get hit, we’ve never seen him get finished. No one ever put Edson to sleep like he did it. I know how hard it’s going to be to find the shot, but it only takes one, and I possess the skills and the power to land it. Tony is a very unique fighter, and it’s going to take time and patience to figure out how to be successful.”
Ferguson has won all of his past 12 fights and hasn’t lost a bout for almost a decade. Gaethje appreciates his opponent’s grit, unpredictability and jiu-jitsu skillset, and that is why he believes El Cucuy will be the toughest challenge he will face.
“I think the puzzle is going to be harder,” he said of Ferguson. “There’s so many unknowns with Tony. You know what Khabib is going to do, and that’s going to be take you down, try to push you against the fence. And if not, he’s going to try and take shots from the space in the middle of the octagon.
“I believe that he can’t take me down in the middle of the octagon, and I can stay off the fence. So that puzzle is written. How do you beat Tony? I don’t know. I’m going to find out.”
Do you think Justin Gaethje has what it takes to solve the Tony Ferguson riddle?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/7/2020.