Justin Gaethje knows when opportunity knocks, it’s best to open the door. While this is the same door he was offered for April 18 at UFC 249, with an interim title on the line there’s no way he could refuse. Even with only a few extra weeks to train, he still expects nothing but a war against Tony Ferguson.
Short notice fights are not something Gaethje would not normally be involved with but an interim title is a map to becoming a UFC champion according to Gaethje when he recently spoke with ESPN. While Gaethje was not happy about the way he found out about the rebooking, he said none of that matters. “For a world title, you fight on the day,” Gaethje said about how this match with Ferguson differs from any other.
As far as preparation and the extra time, Gaethje says he is preparing with the likes of Kamaru Usman, Beniel Dariush, and Neil Magny all “isolated in my house.” For Gaethje it is a goal he has been working for since he was four-years-old. Should he get past Ferguson, the obvious focus will be on Gaethje versus Khabib Nurmagomedov but Gaethje is well aware that looking past Ferguson would be a mistake.
“When I fight him [Ferguson], I want him to try to kill me. I won’t respect him if he doesn’t.” -Justin Gaethje
Gaethje is preparing for a war against Ferguson, and a win could mean that he breaks the “Khabib vs. Tony” curse that seems to be the theme floating around the match that has been attempted five-times. If that is the case, Gaethje does not really care since he is going after his own title but he admits he wanted to see them face each other just as much as the fans did.
“Unless they want the world to end, they should probably leave that fight alone,” Gaethje said in regards to the cursed match. However, he said he would feel a little bad, but not enough to make him not pursue UFC gold. Gaethje said, “I would be very happy to royally screw that up.”
Edward holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Along with over 20 years martial arts experience, he co-hosts The Coast-2-Coast Combat Hour, and also writes for Sherdog while maintaining his own site, The Blogboard Jungle. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel