“UFC 249” will not be headlined by reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, 31, of Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia and Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, 36, of Ventura, California, United States. Instead, the main event will be between the latter and Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje, 31, of Arvada, Colorado, USA, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has confirmed.
Ferguson and Gaethje will compete for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship belt. The co-main event is a rematch between former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champions Jéssica “Bate Estaca” Andrade, 28, of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Rose “Thug” Namajunas, 27, of Denver, Colorado, USA.
This marks the fifth time the UFC scheduled then cancelled a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson. The most recent one was supposed to be the main event of “UFC 249,” which was originally set to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA on April 18, 2020 but was cancelled due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The UFC will still hold “UFC 249” on April 18, 2020. The mixed martial arts promotion has yet to announce the location but sources told ESPN that it is likely to be on the West Coast of the U.S.
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Nurmagomedov returned from California to his home in Dagestan. On April 1, 2020, he announced that he would be staying there in quarantine.
Currently, Nurmagomedov has been reigning as the UFC Lightweight Champion since April 7, 2018. The undefeated Dagestani MMA fighter currently holds a professional MMA record of 28 wins and 0 loss.
On the other hand, Ferguson has 25 wins and 3 losses. Competing professionally since 2008, he made his UFC debut on June 4, 2011.
Gaethje has been competing professionally since August 20, 2011. He competed in the World Series of Fighting from 2013 to 2016 and made his UFC debut, competed in “The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale” on July 7, 2017 and made his UFC debut on December 2, 2017.
Born in Safford, Arizona, USA to a German father and Mexican mother, Gaethje has a twin brother named Marcus John Gaethje. When Justin joined the UFC, he vacated the WSOF Lightweight Championship title, which he successfully defended five times.