Twelve days from the show, we still don’t know the location of UFC 249.
However, we do know the new main event. Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson will take on Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje in the headliner.
According to multiple reports, Gaethje agreed to replace UFC lightweight champion Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov and face Ferguson more than a week ago. Understandably, Ferguson was still hoping to face Nurmagomedov for the strap and wanted to know the location, but he’s now signed, sealed and delivered to collide with Gaethje.
As of late Monday afternoon, various books had different prices. BetDSI had the best price on Ferguson that I could find (-145), while the most generous return on Gaethje was +150 at BetOnline.
The interim lightweight belt will be on the line and it’ll be a five-round affair.
The 36-year-old Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) will take a 12-fight winning streak into this spot. He has garnered eight fight-night bonuses in his last eight scraps.
Ferguson’s last seven victims have included Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, Kevin ‘The Motown Phenom’ Lee, Rafael dos Anjos, Lando Vannata, Edson Barboza and Josh ‘The Punk’ Thomson. Five of Ferguson’s last six wins have been by finish.
Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has bagged seven fight-night bonuses during his six-fight tenure with the promotion. All six of his bouts have been absolute chaos.
Gaethje has won his last three fights by first-round knockouts. He starched Cerrone and Barboza last year. ‘The Highlight’ needed only 87 seconds to dispose of James Vick in the UFC Lincoln headliner on Aug. 25 of 2018.
Gaethje’s Octagon debut came on July 7 of 2017, when he dropped Michael Johnson by KO with 12 seconds left in Round 2 of a back-and-forth thriller.
Then at UFC 218 in Detroit, Gaethje and former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez threw down in an Instant Classic. Alvarez won by third-round KO (knee), but he had to absorb a ton of damage on his way to victory.
In another five-round main event in Phoenix on April 14 of 2018, Dustin Poirier defeated Gaethje by fourth-round KO in another epic clash.
Without a doubt, MMA fans are extremely disappointed to see Ferguson-Nurmagomedov fall apart yet again, but that gut shot is certainly eased by the creation of this must-see showdown.
Nurmagomedov was forced to pull out due to the travel bans in both Russia and the United States due to the global pandemic.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani has reported that the fight will take place at some venue in the “Western” part of the United States. In addition, this same venue will apparently serve as the host of multiple UFC shows in the coming months.
In a reply to a tweet from a fake Twitter account with the same avatar that Helwani has on the social-media website, White said last night that he’ll announce the entire card on Monday. That hasn’t happened yet, but he might be saving it for tonight’s late edition of Sports Center.
A welterweight fight for UFC 249 between Lyman Good and Belal Muhammad has been cancelled after Good was pulled out for a potential USADA violation. Therefore, at least one new fight is going to be added to the card.
However, with multiple shows cancelled in recent weeks, many fights can be moved to those cards that’ll take place soon. In other words, don’t be surprised if UFC 249 is given some major spark with new bookings.
Potential replacement scraps could include Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Walt Harris vs. Alistair Overeem, Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan and Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington or Gilbert Burns.
We’ll continue to provide updates on this fluid situation surrounding the UFC 249 card that’ll be the first major sports event to take place since the coronavirus brought sports to a halt.