Khabib responds after Justin Gaethje demolishes Tony Ferguson to win interim title at UFC 249
Justin Gaethje produced the performance of a lifetime to demolish Tony Ferguson and win the interim lightweight title at UFC 249, and one man distinctly impressed was Khabib Nurmagomedov - the fighter he will likely face next.
Gaethje picked Ferguson apart almost at will on the way to earning a fifth-round stoppage win at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida.
In a contest far more one-sided than most had envisaged, Ferguson's 12-fight win streak coming to a thundering halt at the fists of his fellow American as Gaethje put on a brutally clinical striking masterclass.Also on rt.com 'I want the real thing!' Justin Gaethje REFUSES to wear interim belt after UFC 249 win, calls for unification bout with Khabib
Barring a crunching uppercut which dropped Gaethje at the end of the second round, Ferguson was forced to eat shot after shot as Gaethje hammered his way to the interim lightweight strap and earn a unification shot at Khabib.
The undefeated Russian was among the first to respond to Gaethje's performance on social media, initially offering a "no comment" assessment as Gaethje dealt a potentially fatal blow to the chances of Khabib ever meeting Ferguson in their own long-awaited but repeatedly-postponed bout.
No comment.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020
That brief initial post from Khabib was followed by another from his account which praised Gaethje's performance as "impressive," before a lengthier tweet in Russian in which the 155lbs ruler vowed not to back down from a potential showdown.
"In this sport, and especially in this weight there will always be hungry lions that will breathe down your neck, if you relax, then you're finished," Khabib wrote.
"Some leave and others arrive, that's nothing to be surprised about. But I won’t fall before the shot. We will still fight."
@Justin_Gaethje it was so impressive, congratulations. Very smart fight.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020
В этом спорте и особенно в этом весе всегда будут голодные львы, которые будут тебе дышат в спину, если ты расслабишься то тебе конец. Одни уходят и другие приходят, тут нечему удивляться.Но я раньше выстрела не упаду. Мы ещё повоюем. pic.twitter.com/kxLWX8E8Ah— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020
Khabib wasn't the only one left impressed as Gaethje cemented his position as the number one contender for a crack at 'The Eagle'.
Damn, beat that man like he broke into the wrong house— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 10, 2020
Incredible performance from @Justin_Gaethje and maximum respect to @TonyFergusonXT What a fight.— michael (@bisping) May 10, 2020
Congratulations @Justin_Gaethje— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) May 10, 2020
'The Highlight' himself said after his win - which improved his record to 22-2 - that he was now relishing the chance of "representing America against Russia" in a showdown with Khabib.
🗣️ "There's no other challenge I want right now. I want to fight him."🏆 @Justin_Gaethje is READY to unify against Khabib! #UFC249pic.twitter.com/I4IfNWKjQU— UFC (@ufc) May 10, 2020
Ferguson meanwhile tasted defeat for the first time in eight years, and while he initially appeared bitter that referee Herb Dean had stepped in to stop the fight inside the last 90 seconds, in reality it was the right decision as 'El Cucuy' took shot after shot without reply.
A heartbreaker for El Cucuy.Give this man his well-deserved applause. 👏 #UFC249pic.twitter.com/UFwfg7OvrC— UFC (@ufc) May 10, 2020
Many fans will also lament the fact that Gaethje has killed off any hopes of a Khabib-Ferguson showdown happening soon (or perhaps ever), although few would argue the Gaethje has earned his shot at 155lbs gold after such a brutally effective display in Florida.