Justin Gaethje wants co-main event spot on UFC 249, open to filling in for Khabib or Ferguson
Justin Gaethje isn’t necessarily praying that the main event of UFC 249 falls through but won’t rule out the possibility of filling in if it does.
That’s why he’d like his next fight to be in the co-main slot of the April event in New York, which features a UFC lightweight title headliner between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson.
Speaking to Sirius XM’s “MMA Tonight,” Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) said that while the fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has endured an infamous history of never quite coming to fruition, he likes the idea of competing on the April 18 card, regardless.
“I really, really want that fight to happen,” he said. “I don’t want to wish anything (bad), you know, but that’s a good date to shoot for, for me to be ready because, as we know, that fight tends to have problems sometimes.”
Gaethje has won his last three in a row, all by way of first-round knockout, and he has cemented himself as one of the top contenders in the division.
And while Gaethje says he isn’t spending time thinking about the possibility of stepping in to take a short-notice title shot at the event, he admitted he would be open to it if circumstances panned out that way.
“I wouldn’t say yes or no to that question because I can’t ever train for something of that magnitude without having that there,” Gaethje said. “But I’m also always training for that goal, which is the world championship. So I’m not waking up with the mentality that I’m fighting Khabib right now or anybody which is different than the goal I’ve had my whole life, which is just to become the best in the world.”
That’s why he wants to be the UFC 249 co-headliner, preferably against somebody that guarantees him a title shot. He mapped out how he’d like his ideal scenario for 2020 to play out.
“I’ll fight a title contender fight, a 100 percent title contender fight, against anybody or April 18, co-main event and then fight for the title against whoever wins that night for the title,” Gaethje said. “If it’s Tony, hopefully sooner than September, and if it’s Khabib, then I’ll wait for Ramadan to pass and then wait for him to train then be ready to go in September.”
You can hear more from Gaethje in the clip below.