Justin Gaethje is as game as they come, always willing to accept a short-notice bout at the drop of a hat in the past. Case in point, “The Highlight” agreed to step in for Khabib Nurmagomedov to face Tony Ferguson for the interim Lightweight title at UFC 249 after “The Eagle” was left stranded in Russia.
But after the event was postponed, it was eventually re-booked a few weeks later, as the pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza will now go down on May 9, 2020. And while Gaethje was glad to jump on a title fight on short notice the first time, he admits he was a bit bothered the promotion assumed he’d do it again just a few weeks later.
Furthermore, he wasn’t even informed of the promotion’s plans before they were made public.
“To be honest with you, I was a little bit upset, because I’ve always told them I don’t want to fight on short training camps. I don’t blame them, but they had the assumption that because I was gonna do April 18, I would be fine to do it May 9. But those are totally different circumstances for me, and so I really wasn’t happy about it.”
At the end of the day, the hard-hitting 155-pounder says when it comes down to a title fight, there are exceptions to be made.
“For a world title, you fight on a day’s notice. It doesn’t matter,” said Gaethje, who proceeded to admit when UFC 249 — which was set for April 18 — was initially canceled it was a bit of a relief.
“It was the saddest, most relieving thing I’ve ever experienced.... Once I took (the Ferguson fight) on, I was all-in,” Gaethje said. “And then when they called it off, it was kind of a relief, because essentially, I wasn’t getting the time I needed or wanted. It wasn’t the circumstances that I preferred.”
The winner of Ferguson vs. Gaethje will face division champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, later this year in a title unification bout. UFC 249 is also set to feature a Bantamweight title fight between former UFC “champ-champ,” Henry Cejudo, and Dominick Cruz.