Gaethje to fight Ferguson for UFC Interim Lightweight Championship

UFC Photo: Safford native Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje, right, will battle Tony Ferguson for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship on Saturday, April 18 on pay-per-view.

Battle goes down April 18 at UFC 249

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Safford native Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje will get his title shot Saturday, April 18, against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. The fight will be on pay-per-view. 

Ferguson (25-3, ranked No.2) was originally supposed to fight current Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0, ranked No.1) for the belt, however, due to COVID-19, Nurmagomedov has been stranded in Russia. Ferguson has won 12 fights in a row and hasn’t lost since 2012. 

Additionally, due to the virus, the event cannot be sanctioned for its original location in Brooklyn, New York, but UFC President Dana White announced another location has been found. The new location has not been announced. 

Gaethje (21-2, ranked No.4) has won his last three fights by knockout or TKO in the first round. 

Gaethje is a former all-state wrestler for the Safford Bulldogs and gained All-American status as a wrestler for the University of Northern Colorado. 

Before his last fight in September 2019, he spoke about getting a title shot. 

“If I get a title shot it will only be because I went through the hardest guys,” Gaethje said in an interview. “Most guys (who) get title shots don’t have to do that.”

While this title shot will only be for the Interim Lightweight Championship, if Gaethje beats Ferguson he will be in the driver’s seat for a matchup against Nurmagomedov.