There are two issues Justin Gaethje expects he’ll want when he face Tony Ferguson on Saturday: ache tolerance and persistence.

With so many unknowns inherent to Ferguson’s type, Gaethje figures he’ll want a number of the latter to seek out a solution to the completely different weapons employed by the one-time interim champ, who goals to clear one final hurdle earlier than he meets champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“I’m going to get elbowed,” Gaethje instructed MMA Combating from Jacksonville, Fla., the place he’s two days away from a pay-per-view headliner reverse Ferguson at UFC 249. “I’d be a idiot to go in there and suppose I’m going to get out of there unscathed. 9 of 10 occasions, that’s not going to occur.

“We have now seen him get hit, we’ve by no means seen him get completed. Nobody ever put Edson to sleep like he did it. I understand how arduous it’s going to be to seek out the shot, but it surely solely takes one, and I possess the abilities and the ability to land it. Tony is a really distinctive fighter, and it’s going to take time and persistence to determine how to achieve success.”

It’s that blunt pragmatism that makes Gaethje a singular challenger for Ferguson, who’s promised to wreck his shorter-notice opponent as a lot as doable once they meet for a possible 5 rounds on the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Area.

Ferguson has received his previous 12 fights with a mix of grit, unpredictability and technical experience. And Gaethje, per common, is keen to undergo somewhat additional with a purpose to clear his closing hurdle to a UFC title shot, which might be there ahead of he anticipated. Nurmagomedov not too long ago amended his potential timeline for a return, opening the door to a July title unifier on the conclusion of the Ramadan vacation.

In mild of UFC 249’s postponement, Gaethje has had extra time to arrange for the uncertainty forward, and he’s used each bit.

“I believe the puzzle goes to be tougher,” he stated of Ferguson. “There’s so many unknows with Tony. You understand what Khabib goes to do, and that’s going to be take you down, attempt to push you in opposition to the fence. And if not, he’s going to attempt to take photographs from the house in the midst of the octagon.

“I consider that he can’t take me down in the midst of the octagon, and I can keep off the fence. In order that puzzle is written. How do you beat Tony? I don’t know. I’m going to seek out out.”

The undefeated Nurmagomedov isn’t easy crusing for any opponent, as his unbeaten resume proves. Lots of the Russian’s victims stated beforehand that the champ’s wrestling received’t defeat them, solely to be sucked into the sort of struggle the place they’re unable to cease it.

Gaethje may or won’t be the man to take out the UFC’s two greatest lightweights. Proper now, he’s in between them because the potential spoiler to an oft-canceled struggle. Both he’ll utterly rewrite the narrative of Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, or he’ll study his limitations.

But it surely’s nothing wanting a mission for “The Spotlight,” and one with nationwide implications on this hunkered-down world.

“That’s all I dream about is the chance to show I’m the most effective,” Gaethje stated. “However yeah, they’ve received some very private points. I’ve received nothing to do with that. However we’re combating for the proper to signify america of America in opposition to Russia’s greatest. I consider it’s arduous for america to get behind one fighter, as a result of we’re such a melting pot and we’re from so many locations. However I consider that I can probably carry us collectively and go to conflict with america behind me, and that’s big.”