UFC 249: MAIN EVENT MADNESS Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje Main Event Breakdown By Jason Paglia

Written by on May 7, 2020


Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje

 Main Event Breakdown

By Jason Paglia

Every UFC event moving forward, Jason Paglia from ‘The Sports Keg’ will breakdown the main event and co-main event of every UFC fight card. With that said, let’s try to make some f**king money on Saturday night.

  The UFC 249 main event was not the super-fight we had hoped for. It was a global pandemic that stopped the 5th attempt at the most anticipated lightweight title fight in history. Tony Ferguson was supposed to challenge undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov on the originally scheduled date of UFC 249 on April 18th. Unfortunately, because of travel restrictions, Nurmagomedov was able to leave Russia for the newly scheduled date.

  Although we didn’t get that fight, UFC President Dana White and UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard gave us a very solid consolation prize. Elite UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje will now step in against Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight strap. All we know for sure is the main event will not disappoint. There will be bombs thrown, and bombs landed. The only question is who will be left standing when it’s all said and done. Enough small take, let’s get that f**king money. 



Tony Ferguson (25-3)

Ferguson grew up a multisport athlete in high school. He excelled at baseball, football, and most importantly wrestling. His love of wrestling is would overtake his other interests. Ferguson would go on to be a three-time All-State wrestler at 152 lbs. Although Tony never received a degree, he did go to college initially. Before he left college he won the 2006 NCWA National Championship, but this time at 165 pounds.

After college, Tony Ferguson taught mixed martial artists the fundamentals of wrestling. After being around the sport for a while, Ferguson grew to love it and knew he wanted to focus on mixed martial arts full time. He immediately started training to become a professional mixed martial artist. Not long after, Ferguson joined the regional circuit and began his MMA career.

He began fighting for Total Fighting Alliance and California Extreme Fighting. With 10 wins under his belt, he realized that if he was truly going to make a career of this, he needed to be on the main stage. He needed to for the world’s biggest MMA promotion, Ultimate Fighting Championship. Now knowing what he needed to do, he repeatedly applied to be a contestant on UFC’s reality television show ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. Finally, after multiple requests, Dana White entered Tony Ferguson on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Now in the mix, Ferguson ran through the field and found himself in the finale against Ramsey Nijem. Before the bell rang for the end of round one, Ferguson had already won the grand prize, a six-figure salary, and a chance to become a fighter on the UFC main roster.

The rest as they say is history; since joining the UFC, Tony Ferguson is 15-1 inside the Octagon, which is absolutely absurd. He is one of the few fighters that have won an interim lightweight championship before and was forced to relinquish it due to injury. An opponent has never taken the belt from him even though he finds himself fighting for the same strap on Saturday night. He will ride a 12 fight win streak into Saturday night. Can he make it lucky number 13?

The BEST of Tony Ferguson

STRIKINGThere are not many fighters in the UFC lightweight division, if any, that have the technical boxing game that Tony Ferguson has inside the pocket. He does have some power but not the heaviest hands in the division. It’s his pinpoint accuracy and his counterstriking that sets him apart. He throws a ton of volume, and the angles that his combinations come from is rock solid. In a nutshell, his striking game is the truth.

BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSUFerguson is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the cage today. The balance that he has between his striking game and his ground game is great. As a true black belt (not one of those fugazi black belts) he can submit his opponents from anywhere in the cage at any time from any position. He is as dangerous with his back to the mat as anyone in the game.

STAMINAA huge factor in Saturday night’s main event is cardio. Ferguson never gets tired, like ever. He could go for days. He could fight 10 rounds on SATURDAY IF HE HAD TO. His opponent can not.

The WORST of Tony Ferguson

RISKThe biggest problem that I have with Tony is the dangerous positions that he puts himself in. He is so confident in his offensive game, that he doesn’t mind putting himself in positions that some fighters could not get out of. It’s the reason why he is hurt in almost every fight that he is in, and that includes the fights he wins. Luckily for him, his recovery time is ridiculous. When he gets dropped he has already recovered by the time he hits the mat.


Justin Gaethje (21-2)

Justin Gaethje’s bio reads like many successful MMA fighters in the UFC today. Born into a middleclass family. He went to high school and became and became a standout wrestler.  While at Safford High School, Gaethje was a twotime Arizona state wrestling champion. He went to college and wrestled at the University of Northern Colorado where he was an All-American in 2010 finishing 7th in the NCAA wrestling championships.

While in college Justin Gaethje fell in love with the sport of mixed martial arts. He began training full time, and in 2011 made the decision to turn pro. After fighting on the regional scene for a couple of years, Gaethje found himself at one of the bigger US promotions at the time, the World Series of Fighting. While there he won the WSOP lightweight championship but decided to vacate his title when he was given an opportunity to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2017.

Since joining the UFC, Justin Gaethje is (4-2) and rides a current three fight win streak into Saturday’s main event for the interim lightweight championship. When you take into consideration who he has fought thus far in the UFC, there is no question that Saturday night will be his toughest test as a professional mixed martial artist yet. Can he get the job done and finally have the UFC gold around his waist?


The BEST of Justin Gaethje

POWERNormally I would write striking in this spot, but he does not have an intricate and technical boxing game. It is serviceable. What is not serviceable is the power he carries in his gloves. He is the hardest hitter in the lightweight division, and he might even be the pound for pound hardest hitter in the UFC today. I guess it’s debatable although Francis Ngannou would probably disagree with that take.

LEG KICKSThe most underrated part of his striking game are his leg kicks by far. He does not have the most devastating leg kicks in the division, but he is certainly in the top 3. He can end a fight with a leg kick to the body. Not all lightweight contenders can say that.

VOLUMEGaethje lands 8.57 significant strikes per minute which is almost double the strikes that Tony Ferguson lands per minute. He throws a ton of volume which is terrifying for his opponents when you consider how heavy his hands are.

The WORST of Justin Gaethje

DAMAGE, DAMAGE & DAMAGEIt might not be funny to joke about in 10 years, but Justin Gaethje really is a walking CTE case study. He absorbs a mind boggling 9.67 significant strikes per minute. That is incredibly hard to do. Every minute that Gaethje has been in the cage during his UFC career, he has been punched significantly 10 times. He has been hurt before, he has been dropped before, and eventually this damage will take it’s toll. Can that be this Saturday against someone as dangerous as ‘El Cucuy’? Most definitely.



This is one of the toughest main events to call in the last 12 months. Both these fighters can win this fight. What you have to ask yourself is who has the better chance to win this fight, and more importantly who has more roads to victory.

Justin Gaethje has the power to stop anyone. Even someone that looks invincible like Tony Ferguson. Tony puts himself at risk often, and while he recovers incredibly rapidly, one day that won’t be the case. One day when he goes down, he is going to stay down. Could that be Saturday? YES.

However, Justin Gaethje does not have a limitless gas tank. He has been gassed in the 3rdround of fights before. The Eddie Alvarez fight is one that comes to mind. Gaethje was stopped in the 3rd round of that fight because he had nothing left in the tank. That’s not good when you consider he is fighting a guy that could literally fight this main event twice on Saturday night.

I think Justin Gaethje has 2.5 rounds to get the job done. If he can’t get the job done and he is dragged into the championship rounds, this fight will dramatically swing into Tony Ferguson’s favor.

I spoke about the avenues to victory earlier, and Gaethje has one. He must knock Tony out, and early. Ferguson however, can win this fight in multiple ways. I don’t see thid fight going to the cards, but if it does Tony will win on points without question because he is way more technical than Gaethje. Tony can submit Justin from absolutely anywhere in the cage, especially off his back. If Gaethje drops him and gets careless he can find himself in an arm bar or triangle before he could blink. Finally, Tony has the technical striking game to knock Gaethje out. When you are taking about someone that is as hittable as Justin Gaethje. A guy that absorbs 10 strikes per minute. One of those strikes from Tony and his pin pointaccuracy could shut Gaethje’s lights out.

At this point in their careers, Tony Ferguson is the more well rounded mixed martial artist. He has better victories, and let’s not forget we are talking about a guy that is 15-1 in the octagon. He’s 15-1 for a reason. Give me ‘El Cucuy’.


Tony Ferguson (-175)

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