With Khabib Nurmagomedov facing flight restrictions due to the coronavirus, UFC 249: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje was for the interim championship belt.
While most anticipated Ferguson would win the lightweight championship belt to set up the matchup with Nurmagomedov once again, Gaethje had other plans.
Highlighted by his power and patience, Gaethje impressively ended Ferguson’s 12-fight winning streak via a TKO late in the fifth round and shook up the division.
Although anything can happen, president Dana White expects Nurmagomedov and Gaethje to unify the belts on Fight Island this summer, according to ESPN:
UFC president Dana White said Tuesday that he expects the lightweight unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje to happen on Fight Island this summer.
While Conor McGregor went after Gaethje and other lightweight contenders in a Twitter rant, White is currently focused on unifying the belts at this time now:
“Any time Conor McGregor is fighting, it’s exciting, but yeah, I’m very excited for Gaethje versus Khabib,” White said. “I think stylistically it’s a great matchup. I’m looking forward to it.”
In the most talented division in the UFC, Gaethje’s win over Ferguson certainly changed a lot of plans as the former was expected to fight McGregor after.
With Gaethje set to fight Nurmagomedov at Fight Island, there are some obvious fights to make such as McGregor vs. Ferguson or Dustin Poirier for the next shot.
However, as the face of the UFC, McGregor has a lot of influence and he may even move up to the welterweight division again and fight Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal.
Regardless of what happens, Gaethje becoming the interim champion in the most talented division only adds excitement to what should be an entertaining year.