UFC have confirmed that lightweight contender Justin Gaethje will step in to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s forced withdrawal.
Khabib revealed last week that he was stranded in Dagestan amid the coronavirus outbreak and would not be able to leave to defend his title against Ferguson.
The pair had originally been scheduled to fight for the lightweight title at the main event of the card in Brooklyn, New York however the location was changed following the coronavirus crisis.
UFC President Dana White was forced to cancel three shows as a result of the crisis however he had been adamant that 249 would continue to go ahead, in a still yet unknown location.
On Monday night, the promotion’s official Twitter account confirmed the news that Gaethje would be the man stepping in, with the bout against Ferguson now set for the interim lightweight title.
Gaethje who is the number four ranked lightweight in the division, has been on a tear in recent times, winning his last three bouts all by KO or TKO within the first round.
He recently impressed in defeating Donald Cerrone, stopping the veteran in style in September.
According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the UFC are looking at locations on the west coast of America to host UFC 249 and it is not yet known what other bouts will feature on the card.
— UFC (@ufc) April 6, 2020
As for Ferguson and Khabib’s long-running rivalry, this news confirms that the pair will once again have to wait to square off against one another inside the octagon.
They have been now set to fight on five separate occasions, with the bout being cancelled each time as a result of injuries, weight cutting issues, and in this instance a worldwide global pandemic.
UFC 249 will take place on April 18th, with White set to confirm a location this week.