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Gaethje on why he accepted ‘terrifying’ fight against Ferguson: ‘I love facing adversity’

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“I’m facing my fears right now. That’s what we all need to do.”

UFC Fight Night: Cowboy v Gaethje Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

Justin Gaethje really is a fighter’s fighter.

‘The Highlight’ has accepted a short notice fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 and, although his coaches advised him not take it, Gaethje believes he made the right decision and looks forward to the challenge on April 18.

Speaking to TMZ Sports ahead of UFC 249, Gaethje admitted that, although the prospect of facing ‘El Cucuy’ on short notice is terrifying, the former WSOF lightweight champion loves ‘facing adversity’ and rising to the occasion.

“There’s never been this many unknowns, much less the unknowns that we’re dealing with right now,” Gaethje said (h/t BJPenn.com). “It’s really a terrifying moment — and I’m talking about the competition side. I know what I’m facing. Tony’s been getting ready for Khabib Nurmagomedov, to fight for a world title, for the last three, four, five months. I don’t know how long. It doesn’t matter. But it’s perfect, because I always think they’re working harder, I think they’re better than me, I always think they’re luckier than me, but I love facing adversity. I’m facing my fears right now. That’s what we all need to do.

“I haven’t [ever taken a fight on such short-notice],” Gaethje added. “But I also haven’t been offered a UFC title and that’s the only thing I’m working for. That’s all I’ve been working for since the beginning, so I’m ready to gamble. There’s very few people on earth who would sign up for what me and Tony just signed up for — including most fighters. A lot of guys will say that they’re ready but will not put their name on that dotted line.”

“They called me, my coach said ‘you don’t take late replacement fights,’” Gaethje continued. “I said ‘you’re right, let’s sleep on it.’ The next morning I said ‘if I lose, where are we at?’ For me it’s in the same exact spot I’m in right now.”

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje will take place on April 18 at a secret location. The winner is expected to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout later this year, per UFC president Dana White.