Gaethje was 'upset' UFC announced May 9 bout before he knew about it
Justin Gaethje says he found out his interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson had been rescheduled for May 9 at UFC 249 the same way everyone else did - on the internet.
"I saw that Dana (White) had said that he was having this card May 9 and I was the main event, and I was like, 'What the hell?'" Gaethje told ESPN's Brett Okamoto on Wednesday.
"To be honest with you, I was a little bit upset, because I've always told them I don't want to fight on short training camps. I don't blame them, but they had the assumption that because I was gonna do April 18, I would be fine to do it May 9. But those are totally different circumstances for me, and so I really wasn't happy about it."
Gaethje said the UFC announcing the Ferguson bout before he knew about it put pressure on him to agree to it. He said it'd be nice to get "just a little bit of respect" from the promotion.
But ultimately, "The Highlight" couldn't turn down the opportunity, accepting the fight two hours after he saw the initial report.
"For a world title, you fight on a day's notice," Gaethje said. "It doesn't matter."
The 31-year-old was originally slated to face Ferguson on April 18, but the card was postponed after executives from UFC broadcast partner ESPN and its parent company, Disney, told UFC president White to "stand down."
Gaethje had stepped up on short notice, replacing Khabib Nurmagomedov after the UFC lightweight champion withdrew due to travel restrictions in Russia.
Then the chance to finally capture UFC gold was temporarily taken away from him, but Gaethje said the initial cancellation was somewhat positive.
"It was the saddest, most relieving thing I've ever experienced. ... Once I took (the Ferguson fight) on, I was all-in," Gaethje said. "And then when they called it off, it was kind of a relief, because essentially, I wasn't getting the time I needed or wanted. It wasn't the circumstances that I preferred."