Reports: Justin Gaethje Offered as Replacement Opponent for Tony Ferguson at UFC 249

By: Tristen Critchfield
Mar 30, 2020

With Khabib Nurmagomedov now likely out of the UFC 249 headliner due to travel restrictions in Russia designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the promotion is scrambling to find a new opponent for Tony Ferguson before April 18.

According to multiple reports, former World Series of Fighting champion Justin Gaethje has been offered as a replacement option to “El Cucuy.” ESPN was first to report the news. Currently, the fight has not been agreed upon and is far from being finalized. A location for UFC 249 has not been announced, either.

Gaethje had previously been linked to a potential matchup with Conor McGregor at International Fight Week in July. The Colorado-based fighter is currently on a three-bout winning streak that includes successive first-round finishes of James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone.

According to ESPN, the Las Vegas-based promotion remains determined to move forward with UFC 249 — even with Nurmagomedov unable to compete. The card could now take place in the United States, though it would likely be comprised almost exclusively of American fighters due to bans on travel throughout the world, per the report.

Nurmagomedov announced via Instagram Live on Monday that he is stranded in Russia due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Currently I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day,” Nurmagomedov said. “Although I don't know what am I preparing for. Because after we came to Russia we also learned that the borders are going to be locked. Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates, everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”

If it is indeed canceled, it would be the fifth time Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson has been scrapped.

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