With the news that UFC 249 has been rescheduled to May 9th, although Khabib Nurmagomedov will be unable to defend his lightweight title, up steps Justin Gaethje. The interim belt is on the line as The Highlight enters the Octagon to face Tony Ferguson, a former interim champion himself. The current market suggests that the Justin Gaethje odds on victory in Florida aren’t in his favour – despite three wins from his last three fights, all by way of knockout in the first round – but that won’t phase Gaethje one bit.

He takes on Ferguson, a man with a near impeccable record in the UFC of 15 wins – his only blip, a loss by unanimous decision to Michael Johnson in May 2012. That said, El Cucuy has only challenged for a title once, winning the interim belt with victory over Kevin Lee – and he was later stripped of said title due to injury. He has won Performance of the Night on three occasions and has received five Fight of the Night bonuses along the way.
In some ways, Gaethje is a new face to the UFC. But don’t let that lack of experience fool you. He’s fought six times in the Octagon, and while his win record only stands at four from six, in that time he has amassed four Fight of the Night bonuses and three Performance of the Night accolades – making him the first fighter to receive bonuses in his first six UFC bouts.

After winning by technical knockout on his debut against Michael Johnson, Gaethje went on to suffer back-to-back losses, both by knockout. However, both performances were enough to see him awarded with Fight of the Night bonuses – and since then, The Highlight really has pushed on.

His most recent victory came against UFC veteran Donald Cerrone in September 2019. The Cowboy is highly regarded by fans and those associated with UFC, boasting numerous records for his performances. However, Cerrone has recently hit a massive dip in form, and after losing to Ferguson, he then lost to Gaethje and more recently, Conor McGregor. For Gaethje, it marked a hat-trick of first round wins, as well as post-fight accolades. It took just over four minutes for him to knock out Cerrone, with his previous two victories coming a lot sooner, 2:30 over Edson Barboza and even quicker against James Vick – with just 1:27 on the clock.

Throughout his professional career to date, Gaethje has won 18 of 21 fights by knockout, proving he has what it takes to deliver that powerful blow to opponents. With an interim title up for grabs on May 9th, he will look at this as an opportunity to assert himself on the rest of the division. After all, being a champion is in his blood. When representing the World Series of Fighting (WSOF), The Highlight went on to win the Lightweight Championship in January 2014 – and retained his title on five occasions before vacating it to join the UFC.
After the disappointment of UFC 249 being cancelled last month, fans will undoubtedly be looking forward to the action – and to see if Gaethje can continue his momentum and cause a shock in the Octagon. Either way, it’s a must-watch bout.

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