Sunday, December 5, 2021

Justin Gaethje Won’t Consider Himself UFC Champion If He Beats Tony Ferguson

If Justin Gaethje defeats Tony Ferguson, he won’t be calling himself the real UFC lightweight champion.

Gaethje is scheduled to take on Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight gold on May 9. The two were going to collide on April 18 but those plans changed after the UFC was forced to postpone UFC 249. Now, the promotion has rescheduled the event for next month. Ferguson would’ve fought Khabib Nurmagomedov but the undisputed 155-pound champion is in Russia, which is under a travel ban.

Gaethje Won’t Consider Himself UFC Champion If He Beats Ferguson

If Gaethje and Ferguson can make weight the day before their bout, then the winner of their fight will hold gold as mentioned. Gaethje, however, told ESPN‘s Brett Okamoto that he won’t be a real world champion if he doesn’t have the undisputed tag.

“When they wrap that belt around me, it won’t be the destination,” Gaethje told ESPN on Wednesday. “It will be a map to the top. That’s who I’m looking at. It’ll be nice to have a belt wrapped around, but for me, it won’t mean the same. It won’t mean I’m a world champion in the UFC.

“When I beat Tony, I’m fighting Khabib next. That’s what I’m here for, to be the best in the world. And when I fight him, I want him to try and kill me, because I won’t respect him if he doesn’t.”

Ferguson hasn’t been beaten since May 2012. He is riding a 12-fight winning streak. Along the way, he’s beaten the likes of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, and Rafael dos Anjos.

As for Gaethje, he’s riding a three-fight winning streak. In that span, he’s earned first-round finishes over Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick. Despite not considering himself a world champion with a victory, this will be Gaethje’s first crack at UFC gold.

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