UFC 249 is once again in jeopardy. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is stuck in Russia due to the Coronavirus. One idea that is being floated is a bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. While Tony vs Khabib has been the fight fans have been yearning for, for years now, in today’s UFC, Ferguson vs. Gaethje is the fight to make. While any top-level lightweight bout is unlikely to occur (and probably shouldn’t) given the current circumstances regarding the Coronavirus, if one is to occur, it should be this. Let’s go through & look at how things should ideally workout in the lightweight title picture.
The Resume of Tony Ferguson
Ferguson was originally supposed to fight Khabib nearly five years ago, in December of 2015. Since that cancelled bout, Ferguson has fought six times. Excluding two fights in 2016, the past five years have been occupied by only one fight a piece. All of his performances have been impressive. Only a slew of bad luck has stopped Tony from getting a well-deserved title shot. Time, however, has not been friendly to Tony’s winning streak. Ferguson’s most recent two fights, against Anthony Pettis & Donald Cerrone do not exactly scream #1 contender. Both opponents are known commodities in the division but have been on a downward trend for years now. Since Ferguson was first scheduled to fight Khabib, Gaethje was still defending his World Series of Fighting belt. Now Gaethje is UFC’s most exciting and impressive action fighter with much more depth than it seems.
The Resume of Justin Gaethje
Gaethje arrived to an already stacked lightweight division in the summer of 2017 as an undefeated fighter. After weathering the storm against Michael Johnson, Gaethje went on to have back to back wars against top contenders Eddie Alvarez & Dustin Poirier. Though neither Dustin or Eddie came out unscathed, they both managed to face the barrage of Gaethje. Both men won, scoring late TKO’s in both. Gaethje looked impressive but it was clear his fearless and occasionally reckless habits could be his downfall if faced with an experienced opponent. Since his last loss to Dustin in April of 2018, Gaethje has gone onto win three in a row by first round KO. Notably, It seems that Gaethje has fine-tuned his game and polished up his needlessly wreck less style. Justin has gotten out of all 3 matches relatively harm free.
Ferguson vs. Gaethje is a true number one contender fight. Gaethje’s recent resume is very similar to Ferguson’s recent resume. Both are impressive, but not much different from one another. This begs the question- why not fight each other? Both Ferguson and Gaethje have never been in a boring fight, and putting both together in a cage is a fight that needs to happen eventually, so why not now?