Last week, undisputed lightweight champion Nurmagomedov was ruled out of his title defence against Ferguson due to coronavirus-enforced travel restrictions in Russia, marking the fifth time in five years that the most-anticipated bout in MMA has fallen through.
White announced on Twitter on Monday that No. 4 lightweight Gaethje would step in to save the UFC 249 main event, though the card’s location is still unknown.
Originally it was set to take place in Las Vegas.
“This fight is signed and is 100% on live on ESPN, somewhere on Earth!!!!” White tweeted.
Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh said last week that Gaethje (21-2) was being discussed as his fighter’s next opponent.
Ferguson (25-3) was previously interim lightweight champion from 2017 to 2018 before a last-minute injury ruled him out of his last scheduled clash with Nurmagomedov and forced him to relinquish the belt.
Gaethje is on a three-fight win streak, having beaten Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and James Vick in his last three contests.
Meanwhile, Ferguson is on a 12-fight win streak and has not lost since 2012.
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