Justin Gaethje isn’t known to take short-notice fights but he said he had to make one exception to take on Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
The two will fight for the interim lightweight title where the winner will get a shot to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov. For Gaethje, he said he only took the fight because a belt was on the line.
“There’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns that we’re dealing with right now,” Gaethje said to TMZ Sports (via BJPENN.com). “It’s really a terrifying moment — and I’m talking about the competition side. I know what I’m facing. Tony’s been getting ready for Khabib Nurmagomedov, to fight for a world title, for the last three, four, five months. I don’t know how long. It doesn’t matter. But it’s perfect, because I always think they’re working harder, I think they’re better than me, I always think they’re luckier than me, but I love facing adversity. I’m facing my fears right now. That’s what we all need to do.
“I haven’t [ever taken a fight on such short-notice],” Gaethje added. “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.”
He also believes it isn’t a risky fight as even if he loses to Ferguson it won’t set him back that much at lightweight.
“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.”
In the end, Justin Gaethje says he is also using this as an opportunity to earn a paycheck. He also believes this fight will make him become a legend.
“I’m going to go out there, I get a paycheck, which is nice. But, ultimately I get a chance at glory,” Gaethje concluded. “Heroes lives forever and legends never die, and I’m literally here to make a statement. My name will carry on far longer after I’m here because of my effort because my work ethic and because of the skills I possess.”