Image source: Justin Gaethje Instagram (@justin_gaethje)
Recent reports suggest that Khabib Nurmagomedov is now stuck in his native Dagestan meaning the fight against Tony Ferguson is likely off. However, there is another top lightweight contender that could step in and fill the gap.
According to Ariel Helwani, Justin Gaethje could step in and fight Ferguson on short notice to keep the UFC 249 main event alive. However, Helwani did also state that the fight has not been agreed yet but Gaethje has been offered the opportunity.
Helwani’s report also suggests that the UFC now believe they can host the event in the United States after telling Nurmagomedov that the fight was 99% likely to take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. If the fight was to take place in the U.S. it would likely consist mainly of American fighters.
Gaethje is a worthy contender to step in and fight Ferguson, perhaps event for an interim title. The American brawler is currently riding a three-fight winning streak with all wins coming by knockout over James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone respectively.
However, the man to last defeat Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, has also thrown his name in the hat to jump in and fight Ferguson on April 19th.
As of today, the Russian borders have been closed which means that the fight between Khabib and Ferguson is highly likely to be off although not officially confirmed by the promotion at this stage.
The event may depend on whether the UFC can secure either Gaethje or Poirier to fight Ferguson as well as them securing a venue somewhere within the United States to host the event.