Justin Gaethje Wants Khabib Fight After TKO Win vs. Tony Ferguson at UFC 249

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 09: Justin Gaethje of the United States speaks to the media after his Interim lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson of the United States during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Justin Gaethje doesn't want to wait around; he's ready to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov and unify the UFC lightweight championship.

"Khabib is the best in the world. I've been working since I was four for challenges like this, and I am happy to represent the United States of America against Dagestan or Russia's best," Gaethje said Saturday after his TKO win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. "He is 28-0, and there is no other challenge I want right now. I want to fight him."

Gaethje was dominant in his upset win over Ferguson, dictating the pace for four rounds before finishing off the bout in Round 5. The victory netted him the interim lightweight championship, his first title in UFC.

Nurmagomedov is 29-0 in his MMA career, returning to the Octagon in September to unify the lightweight belt in a submission win over Dustin Poirier. He had taken an 11-month hiatus from MMA after being suspended for attacking members of Conor McGregor's entourage after an October 2018 bout at UFC 229.

Coronavirus travel restrictions forced Nurmagomedov to pull out of his scheduled UFC 249 fight against Ferguson, leading to Gaethje taking his place. Nurmagomedov responded to Gaethje's challenge in a Twitter post, saying in Russian the pair will fight.

"Khabib tweeted that he's ready to go this summer," UFC President Dana White said after UFC 249. "So, we will get back home next week and figure out what's next and get this fight together as soon as possible."

While not as hyped as Ferguson, Gaethje proved Saturday why he will be one of the biggest challenges of Nurmagomedov's career. Each of his seven UFC bouts has resulted in a Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night, including both Saturday. He's battled back from tough losses to Eddie Alvarez and Poirier to reel off four straight wins and looked like the best lightweight in the world in pummeling Ferguson.