UFC 249 officially has its new main event, as the promotion announced Monday that Tony Ferguson will square off against Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship.
“The fight is signed and is 100 [percent] on live ESPN somewhere on Earth,” UFC president Dana White wrote on social media.
According to ESPN, the Las Vegas-based organization is close to finalizing a venue on the West Coast of the United States. Ferguson was initially slated to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249, but the reigning lightweight champion remains stranded in Russia due to travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It is the fifth time a matchup between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov has been canceled.
Ferguson previously fought for interim gold at UFC 216, where he submitted Kevin Lee in the third round of their encounter in October 2017. “El Cucuy” is currently on a 12-bout winning streak and is coming off a second-round stoppage of Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 last June.
Gaethje had 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 Cerrone. Gaethje was a champion in World Series of Fighting before signing with the UFC.
“”I’m terrified and I f---en love it,” Gaethje wrote on Twitter.