Morning report: Justin Gaethje explains why he would not have fought in the short term against Khabib Nurmagomedov

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For years, Justin Gaethje has been adamant that he will not accept short-term fights because he wants to play his best every time he steps into the cage. But this weekend, Gaethje will break this rule when he faces Tony Ferguson for the light interim title at UFC 249. Previously, Gaethje has admitted that his willingness to accept a short-term fight rested largely on the fact that an interim title is a rare opportunity in MMA and an opportunity he could not pass up on, but now Gaethje also admits that the opponent also had something to do with his decision.

“I don’t think I would have taken the fight against (undisputed lightweight champion) Khabib (Nurmagomedov) in a short time,” Gaethje told BT Sport recently. “When it comes to matches, I think I have a much better chance of hitting Tony’s chin than Khabib’s in the first two, three rounds. In order to be killed once or twice by Khabib, to work and to continue fighting, I really need at least 10 weeks. You know, I’ve trained all my life, but there is a certain lactic acid that builds up that you really need to take into account. ”

Gaethje initially agreed to a fight with Ferguson on three weeks’ notice for April 18. The UFC was then forced to postpone this event and now UFC 249 will take place this Saturday, which means that Gaethje still has three weeks to prepare for a fight with Ferguson, which he admits is certainly better but still not ideal.

“Anyway, these are not perfect circumstances, but a fight is a fight,” said Gaethje. “When it was 14 days notice, it was very different from now, or 20 days notice. Now, I have five weeks to train, which is not what I asked for or wanted, but I think before that I was in better shape. I did not let myself go. I said to myself from the start of the year, I was going to fight again and it was going to be a big fight. So I was running and doing things that I don’t normally do outside of the camp. ”

Of course, Ferguson was originally supposed to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249, but the lightweight champion was forced to leave the fight due to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, marking the fifth time that ‘a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has fallen. Given the propensity of this fight to involve calamity, earlier this year, Gaethje said that he intended to stay in shape just in case, and it seemed to be wise. Now, Gaethje will have the opportunity to end the Khabib-Ferguson saga once and for all, which he says he will be more than happy to do on Saturday.

“I did it, I really did it (I want to see Khabib fight Tony),” said Gaethje. “But at the end of the day, I will be happy to spoil everything for everyone. “

UFC 249 will take place this Saturday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.


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