Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje, 31, of Safford, Arizona, United States in the new interim champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division. He earned the title at “UFC 249.”
Featuring 11 MMA matches, “UFC 249” took place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, USA on May 9, 2020. In the main event of the evening, Gaethje and Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, 36, of Oxnard, California, USA competed for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship belt.
Herb Dean served as the referee. He put a stop to the title bout after 3 minutes and 39 seconds in the fifth round Gaethje knocked out Ferguson.
In the post-fight interview in the octagon with Joe Rogan, Gaethje said he was ready to unify the titles with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, 31, of Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia. The latter took to Twitter to share his reaction.
Winning at “UFC 249” improved the professional MMA record of Gaethje to 21 wins and 2 losses. On the other hand, Ferguson now has 25 wins and 3 losses.
Seven countries were represented at “UFC 249” namely were Brazil, Cameroon, Cape Verde, France, Russia, Suriname and the U.S. Ferguson and Gaethje were two of the 16 representatives of the U.S.
The main event was declared the Fight of the Night, which was presented by Toyo Tires. The Performance of the Night bonuses were given to Gaethje and Francis “The Predator” Ngannou, 33, of Batié, Cameroon and Paris, France.
Gaethje is now riding a three-bout winning streak. “UFC 249” marked the Safford native’s fourth victory in the UFC.
Competing professionally since 2011, Gaethje joined the UFC in 2017. The first three opponents he defeated in the promotion were Michael Johnson, James Vick and Edson Barboza.
While almost all major international sports events have been either cancelled or postponed, the UFC held “UFC 249” amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of May 9, 2020, the U.S. listed 1,346,354 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 80,007 died from a disease caused by the virus and 236,825 recovered from it.