Justin Gaethje isn’t someone who normally takes short-notice fights but he has made an exception at UFC 249.
In the main event, Gaethje will step in on just 12 days notice to battle Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. He says the only reason he took it is the fact a belt is on the line.
“There’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns that we’re dealing with right now,” Gaethje said to TMZ Sports (via BJPENN.com). “It’s really a terrifying moment — and I’m talking about the competition side. I know what I’m facing. Tony’s been getting ready for Khabib Nurmagomedov, to fight for a world title, for the last three, four, five months. I don’t know how long. It doesn’t matter. But it’s perfect, because I always think they’re working harder. I think they’re better than me, I always think they’re luckier than me. But I love facing adversity. I’m facing my fears right now. That’s what we all need to do.
“I haven’t [ever taken a fight on such short-notice],” Gaethje added. “But I also haven’t been offered a UFC title and that’s the only thing I’m working for. That’s all I’ve been working for since the beginning, so I’m ready to gamble. There’s very few people on earth who would sign up for what me and Tony just signed up for — including most fighters. A lot of guys will say that they’re ready but will not put their name on that dotted line.”
Gaethje also says it isn’t a risky fight as if he loses given he took it on short notice and doesn’t lose any stock.
“They called me, my coach said ‘you don’t take late replacement fights,’” Gaethje continued. “I said ‘you’re right, let’s sleep on it.’ The next morning I said ‘if I lose, where are we at?’ For me it’s in the same exact spot I’m in right now.”
In the end, Justin Gaethje is using this as an opportunity to enter the history books and make some money at the same time.
“I’m going to go out there, I get a paycheck, which is nice. But ultimately I get a chance at glory,” he added. “Heroes lives forever and legends never die, and I’m literally here to make a statement. My name will carry on far longer after I’m here because of my effort because my work ethic and because of the skills I possess.”