Dana White confirms Ferguson vs. Gaethje headlines UFC 249

Dana White announced Monday afternoon that Tony Ferguson has signed on to fight Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title in the main event of UFC 249, although the location of the fight has yet to be confirmed.

Ferguson was originally scheduled to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at the April 18 event, originally slated for the Barclays Center in New York, however the undefeated lightweight champion is currently in Dagestan, Russia and unable to leave the country due to various travel restrictions stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s unclear at this time how many other fights will take place on the card. According to a report from ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, White and the UFC have zeroed in on a location for the event somewhere on the west coast of the United States.

Ferguson (25-3) has won 12 fights in a row dating back to 2013, including wins over former champions Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis. The No. 1-ranked contender even won an interim title in 2017 when he submitted Kevin Lee at UFC 216 but was later stripped of his belt due to injury.

Meanwhile, Gaethje (21-2) is a former World Series of Fighting 155-pound champ who has won three consecutive fights by first-round knockout.

The new headliner features two of the most entertaining fighters on the UFC roster.

Ferguson has 10 post-fight performance bonuses in his 16-fight UFC career. Gaethje has already accumulated seven total bonuses despite only fighting six times in the UFC.

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ONE CEO Sityodtong wants crossover dream match between Xiong and Zhang

MANILA, Philippines—In the most basic of aspects, ONE Championship and the UFC are two competing mixed martial arts promotions but there was one time when the two actually pulled off an unprecedented transaction.

Back in 2018, the two promotions “swapped” fighters with former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson ex-ONE welterweight titleholder exchanging places.

It’s been more than a year since and the two promotions have yet to construct another deal but that doesn’t mean fictional dream matches are off the table.

ONE founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtonf said in a fan interaction that he wants a dream match between strawweight champions Xiong Jingnan and Zhang Weili.

“For women’s mixed martial arts, I would love to see Jingnan Xiong vs Weili Zhang. I think Jingnan is the one to beat Weili Zhang,” said Sityodtong.

Both Zhang and Xiong have figured in iconic matches in the past.

Most recently, Zhang defended her UFC title against Jianna Jedrzejczyk in an absolute barnburner while Xion exchanged wins against ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee in a couple of high-octane matches.

Zhang boasts the more impressive record of 21-1 with her lone loss coming in her debut while Xiong is at 14-2 and carried a nine-fight winning streak before losing to Lee via submission in her last bout.

Incidentally, Sityodtong also mentioned Lee as someone who can tangle in the proverbial dream matches.

“I think Angela Lee VS any Atomweight in the world. Angela Lee is incredible. I’ve seen her in training. I’ve seen her go into a bout with pneumonia with doctor’s advice not to compete and I’ve tried my best to stop the fight,” said Sityodtong.

“Angela Lee’s an absolute warrior and she’s just a genius on the ground.”

Sityodtong also mentioned Stamp Fairtex as another woman who can fight Zhang.

Fairtex, 22, once

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Ferguson says Nurmagomedov should be stripped of UFC title

Tony Ferguson thinks Khabib Nurmagomedov should be stripped of his title after the lightweight champion announced Wednesday that he would be staying in quarantine in Russia and not competing at UFC 249, which is scheduled for April 18.

“Obviously, I was very upset,” Ferguson told ESPN after Nurmagomedov posted the news on his Instagram page. “I feel more for everybody else that’s actually going through some hard times. It’s a little bit different, of course, I’m a little bit pissed. He had the opportunity to stay here. He was in Abu Dhabi, he had his chance to be able to come back before the borders were closed in Russia. Decided to go back to Dagestan, did not finish his camp. The guy does not want to fight. He’s scared, he’s running. He should be stripped of his title.”

UFC president Dana White has insisted in recent weeks that UFC 249 will go on as planned on April 18 despite COVID-19 concerns, although not in its original location of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Nurmagomedov said during an Instagram live stream earlier in the week that he had been training in California before the UFC told him his fight with Ferguson would likely end up taking place in Abu Dhabi and not in the United States. Nurmagomedov explained he flew to the United Arab Emirates approximately one month out from the fight but due to UAE border closures Nurmagomedov wasn’t granted entry. Instead of flying back to the U.S., the undefeated champ flew home to Dagestan to continue training but once he was there Russia closed its borders.

This marks the fifth time a scheduled matchup between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has been scrapped since 2015.

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