Originally scheduled to headline the since canceled UFC 249 pay-per-view event on April 18th – a clash between former interim lightweight champion, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson and Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje is expected to feature at a UFC event on May 9th.
Saturday night approaching, Ferguson and Gaethje were expected to clash for the interim lightweight championship in undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s absence, but due to the cancellation of the entire event, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the two are now targeting a May showdown. News of the clash was first reported by ESPN staff writer, Brett Okamoto.
Oxnard-based all-rounder, Ferguson, was preparing for a fifth scheduled tie with the aforementioned, Nurmagomedov until travel restrictions imposed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic – forced the Dagestan native to remain in his home country. Ferguson, 36, was then handed an interim title lifeline in the form of Gaethje – with the pair expected to meet at the Tachi Palace Resort Casino in Lemoore, California – until Dana White pulled the plug on the event after calls from Disney and ESPN executives for the president, to “stand down“.
The 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt has amassed a staggering twelve straight successes in the UFC, battering fellow card placers, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis in his most recent Octagon appearances. Despite never appearing in an undisputed title pairing, Ferguson claimed the interim crown back in 2017, submitting Kevin Lee via a third-round triangle.
Former WSOF lightweight best, Gaethje, also secured his most recent victory over previously noted Cerrone, as part of an eye-catching three-fight win streak. The Arizonian has put himself in pole position for a shot at lightweight gold over the course of last year, adding ‘Cowboy’ to a surge which includes both Edson Barboza, and James Vick.
The 31-year-old was tentatively linked to an eventual summer showdown with former lightweight and featherweight champion, Conor McGregor – but a victory over Ferguson will more than likely propel him toward a championship clash with Nurmagomedov later this year.
As of writing, it’s currently unknown if interim spoils – which were up for grabs at the scheduled April 18th event will be on the line come May 9th.