Growing accustomed to UFC events every weekend, it has been almost two months since we have seen live MMA action. On Saturday May 09, 2019 the streak ends and we get back to action with UFC 249: Ferguson vs Gaethje from Jacksonville, Florida. Though fan attendance will still be zero, this will be a huge morale boost for sports fans looking for live sports entertainment. The UFC looks to make up for missed action with three events within a week. May 13 and May 16 will also host events at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, same location as UFC 249 this weekend.
UFC 249 Media Conference Call
Today lightweight main eventers number one contender, Tony Ferguson and number four ranked Justin Gaethje spoke. First we had the co-main eventers who will be facing off for the UFC bantamweight championship with champion Henry Cejudo and challenger Dominick Cruz. Arguably the greatest bantamweight in the UFC’s history, Cruz returns for the first time since December 2016, but this time with gold on the line. Aside from the expected back and forth banter between Cruz and Cejudo, both fighters had plenty to say about this matchup and their legacies.
Co-Main Event Cejudo vs Cruz
Cruz sounds confident and ready to go on Saturday as he battles for the championship. ” I’ve been rehabbing my shoulder for the last few months so I’ve been training hard. I have also been training with Jeremy Stephens who is also fighting on this card.” Cruz is recovering from surgery but is known for not having issues with “ring rust” after layoffs from surgeries. To Cruz, the past is in the past, and his future is eyed upon the bantamweight championship. “I am in very good shape right now. I feel like money,” Cruz stated. Cruz also commented on Cejudo coming off of surgery asking the champion, “Have you ever had to come back from surgery before?”
In regards to the fan-less event, Cruz made an interesting point by stating, “The silence might be the weird part. If you fight in Japan there is a lot of people there but not a lot of noise,” Cruz stated. “I don’t have a lot of people in the gym. 4-6 max in the gym so it’s been pretty silent. It’s going to resemble TUF.” The connection to The Ultimate Fighter is interesting with many fighters currently in the UFC having been through that process.
The champion was not at a loss of words but did start out giving much respect to Cruz. “Dominick was actually my first choice. We have a great story line, both being from Arizona. There is no concrete number one contender,” Cejudo stated. He went on by saying, “He paved the road for a lot of us little guys. I want to continue to keep adding big names to my hit list.” But when asked where he places Cruz on his list of opponents the praise was not quite as high. “Each fight is the most important. I wouldn’t put him above DJ (Demetrious Johnson) even though he does have a win over him. I do respect Dom’s skills.”
The big question to every fight was how has the quarantine effected their training. “I don’t know the difference between the COVID-19 quarantine and my training camps,” Cejudo said. Having a personal gym at home has allowed Cejudo to get all his necessary training accomplished. Cejudo also indicated in the call he would like to get Jose Aldo next before eventually battling Alexander Volkanovski.
Main Event- Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje
With the potential to be a fight of the year war, Justin Gaethje enters the octagon physically and mentally prepared for an all-out war. “This is the biggest fight of my life,” Gaethje said. “We are fighting for the chance to represent our country against Khabib.” As the main topic of discussion as been the world’s current situation with COVID-19, Gaethje stated about his training, “My life has not changed one bit. I’ve really been living in isolation for years.” He feels the UFC has a big chance to encourage the world to keep fighting. “We get to inspire people right now to not give up,” Gaethje said on the conference call.
Tony Ferguson, who was originally set to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, will battle Gaethje in what he is calling a title defense. “I’m defending my belt for the third time,” Ferguson stated. He went on to say that he was not going to talk at all about Khabib or Conor McGregor, which is were many questions were geared to. While lifting weights during the conference call, he went on to state this matchup will be an absolute war and Gaethje and he are the only real men in the division who would “sign the dotted line.” Both fighters were extremely respectful but mindful of the ill intent that will be displayed when the cage door closes on Saturday May 09, 2020.