Justin Gaethje knows he won’t be able to go the distance against Tony Ferguson but is confident of securing a knockout win at UFC 249.
Top lightweight contender Gaethje has accepted a late notice fight against ‘El Cucuy’, after 155lb champion Khabib Nurmagomedov fell off the April 18 event.
‘The Highlight’ will now get a shot at the interim belt and should he win will earn a highly lucrative fight with the undefeated Russian Nurmagomedov. Speaking to ESPN, Gaethje said despite not being fully prepared for the fight, he is confident of winning although he admits it will have to be within the first four rounds.
“Uhm, you know that’s a hard question that’s a very hard question because me being a realist I have to be real and I have to be honest when you ask me that question. I know I got about 18 to 19 minutes of pure hell, pure fury and I know how hard I hit. But, after that, it is going to be extremely tough to fight with Tony Ferguson in that space. I think I’m 90 percent right now and I’ll be closer to 95 percent. I’ve made some big sacrifices in the last 10 days, I’ve lost 12 pounds and I have not cheated one time. When I go in there, I will give 100 percent as I do every time. Humans recognize effort, and I will give you max effort.” (Transcribed by BJPenn.com)
In a different interview with TMZ Sports, Gaethje explained the significance of stepping in on late notice which is not something he’d usually do, he said.
“I haven’t [ever taken a fight on such short-notice]. 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.”
“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.” (Transcribed by BJPenn.com)
Do you think 18 or 19 minutes will be enough for Justin Gaethje to finish Tony Ferguson?