Justin Gaethje was the worst possible turnaround fight for Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson had put months and months of training, film watching, and game planning surrounding Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fighting style, ground and pound. Khabib does nothing special, he takes you down, wears you out, and beats you up on the ground.
Well, Justin Gaethje does the exact opposite. Gaethje is a slugger, he will continuously throw, until either he or his opponent drops. Well, after months of training and molding his mind to defend Khabib’s takedown attempts and ground game, Ferguson was not going into a fight, expecting a slugging showdown. Not to mention, that Ferguson feeds off of momentum from the crowd, which was not present at UFC 249, due to COVID-19, which is the same reason why Nurmagomedov was forced to pull out of the Ferguson fight.
Ferguson also made the 155 pound weight limit, the day that the Nurmagomedov fight was scheduled to take place. A few weeks later, he was then forced to make the weight limit again to fight against Gaethje.
During the fight, Ferguson’s rhythm just seemed to be thrown off. For a fighter who usually thrives off of rhythm and flow, Ferguson seemed to be fairing away from his usual fight style, likely due to the game plan set in place to fend off Nurmagomedov’s wrestling. As a result of the loss to Gaethje, Gaethje is now the Lightweight Interim Champ, and is likely Khabib’s next opponent. In the event of Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje, the ever-long stylistic fight of striker vs. wrestler, will be on display again. As if Khabib hasn’t shown that he dominates strikers, he will once again against Gaethje.
Although the unfortunate loss to Gaethje, Ferguson deserves the fight against Nurmagomedov. The fans want it, the money is there, and the rivalry is there. They hate each other, and always have. It is the more interesting and intriguing matchup, rather than the classic matchup of striker vs wrestler, in Gaethje vs Nurmagomedov. Ferguson offers a greater threat to Nurmagomedov, due to his unorthodox style, vicious elbows and knees, and his jiu-jitsu ground game.