Tony Ferguson really is the type of guy to take a dangerous and avoidable fight in order to gain almost nothing. Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson was made, canceled and now confirmed to be re-scheduled for May 9th. A fight that jeopardises a fan favourite future matchup between Khabib Vs Ferguson.
For Gaethje, it’s an interim title shot and a chance at greatness. Gaethje is coming off a 3-fight win streak (all coming by way of knockout) and seems to have improved in every showing. We know that Gaethje will come forward, likely take a blow or 3 to get in range and start firing off his formidable right hook which he believe’s will put Ferguson to sleep, as per his recent interview with TMZ.
Tony on the other hand is coming off a 12-fight win streak, loves throwing elbows, is dangerous off his back and has a strong submission game. Although we’ve seen Ferguson ‘hurt’ multiple times in recent fights his unorthodox and rolls, spins and turns make him elusive and unpredictable. If it comes down to a battle of the gas tank, we know the kind of pace that Ferguson can keep and it is unlikely that Gaethje will outdo Ferguson in that regard.
It pays to remember that Gaethje is taking this fight on very short notice – something he is well-known for not usually doing. Not only will it play a factor on his cardio and conditioning, it is not unreasonable to speculate that this may weigh on his mind throughout the fight. In an interview with Brett Okamoto from ESPN MMA, Gaethje addressed the feeling of “relief” he felt upon discovering the fight had been canceled, stating that the lack of time to prepare was affecting him.
“You know essentially I wasn’t getting the time I needed or wanted, wasn’t the circumstances I would’ve preferred”.
3 days later Gaethje found out (via the internet) that his fight with Ferguson was back on.
If the fight goes into deep waters it could come down to who has the stronger mental fortitude and the greater will to win. Potentially the most devastating disadvantage of a short camp for Gaethje may be the lack of time to prepare mentally.
In terms of the physical fight, expect Gaethje to start working early – he stated himself that he believes his best chance to win is in the early rounds – which will see him march forward and try to lock Ferguson down. Elbows, front kicks, spinning back fists and whatever other strikes Ferguson has in his arsenal will likely meet Gaethje’s advances and likely turn this bout into a blood bath
Many would believe Ferguson to have the advantage in the clinch, throwing vicious elbows from every angle but it would be unwise can’t forget Gaethje’s love for uppercuts and knees to the body. In his bout against Michael Johnson, Gaethje landed uppercut after uppercut in the clinch, holding the back of Johnson’s head in position to land it almost at will.
One question mark I have when considering Gaethje’s win conditions is whether or not he can finish Ferguson even if he hurts him. As I mentioned, Ferguson gets hurt and then gets away. Unless hit with something that puts him to sleep, I would not be surprised if Tony is able wiggle and worm his way out of danger and perhaps even damage Gaethje in the process. If Gaethje is able to land the ‘one hitter quitter’ or else immediately pressure a wounded Ferguson he has a very real chance at earning himself the interim lightweight belt.
There is no doubt that Gaethje has one-hit knockout power (go watch his fight against James Vick) which is why this fight is bound to keep me on the edge of my seat, knowing full well that it may likely end at a seconds notice.
Although Ferguson has multiple avenues to victory it is likely that he will aim to attack the body of Gaethje early, slow him down and drag him into deep waters and either stop or submit him. If Ferguson can minimize damage early and avoid getting dragged into a ‘stand and bang’ dog fight which would likely favour Gaethje I see Ferguson likely securing the win via submission in the 3rd or 4th round.
This article first appeared on CLOSEDGUARDMEDIA.com on 9th April, 2020