There is a finally a new main event for UFC 249. On Monday UFC President Dana White announced on Twitter that the contracts have been signed and Tony Ferguson will face Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title on April 18.
The fight is signed and is 100% ON LIVE on ESPN somewhere on EARTH!!!! 😃@TonyFergusonXT vs @Justin_Gaethje is LIVE on @espn+ PPV April 18th for the interim lightweight belt! pic.twitter.com/aH44zg5K30
— danawhite (@danawhite) April 6, 2020
While the main event was announced for the event, no other fights for the card were announced in the official announcement from White, and more importantly, a location was not given either. The news comes shortly after a report from ESPN surfaced on Sunday night that said the promotion was closing in on a location for the event to take place, and it was likely on the west coast of the United States.
This will be the second interim title fight for Tony Ferguson who defeated Kevin Lee back at UFC 216 in October of 2017 to win the interim belt. Ferguson was stripped of the interim title after suffering a knee injury while doing press for the UFC in the lead up to his unification fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.
It was at UFC 223 where Nurmagomedov won the undisputed title against Al Iaquinta, and has since gone on to defend it over Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Nurmagomedov was initially scheduled to face Ferguson at UFC 249, but had to withdraw due to travel restrictions placed in Russia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting his first opportunity at a UFC title, Justin Gaethje took to Twitter shortly after the fight was announced and shared his reaction.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) April 6, 2020
Gaethje is currently riding a three-fight winning streak with all first-round knockouts over the likes of James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald Cerrone. Gaethje is also a former lightweight champion under the World Series of Fighting (now Professional Fighters League) promotion.
Tony Ferguson is riding a 12-fight winning streak and while his fight against Nurmagomedov is now officially cancelled for a fifth time, he’s got another chance at championship gold to cement his place in the lightweight division.