Gaethje is set for a UFC lightweight title unification bout with Nurmagomedov later this year. “The Highlight” captured the interim 155-pound gold in the main event of UFC 249. Gaethje earned a fifth-round TKO victory over Tony Ferguson. Gaethje snapped Ferguson’s 12-fight winning streak and became the first man to finish “El Cucuy” via TKO. Prior to the bout, Ferguson’s lone finishing loss was a submission.
Gaethje Thinks He Holds Key To Beating Khabib
Gaethje appeared on Joe Rogan’s JRE MMA Show to weigh in on what it’ll take to beat Nurmagomedov (h/t BJPenn.com).
“You gotta self-defense. Without the footwork, you can’t stay out of the fence,” Gaethje said. “If he is taking a shot in the open then he will drive you down to the fence. He’s not gonna attempt takedowns in the open. You watch all of his fights. You’ll maybe see five takedowns that he attempted in the middle of the cage. He’ll start in the middle but he is too pushy towards the cage.”
Nurmagomedov has a perfect pro MMA record of 28-0. Some feel that Gaethje could be the one who dethrones Nurmagomedov. Those who share this opinion will point to Gaethje’s standup and takedown defense. Nurmagomedov’s game plan is no secret. He works to take his opponents to the ground and beat them down before locking in a choke or neck crank if he can find it. While it sounds easy to prepare for, no one has been able to stop “The Eagle.”
Gaethje’s chance at the undisputed gold may have happened sooner if it wasn’t for an unfortunate situation. Nurmagomedov had plans to return as early as July but his father’s health has deteriorated. As a result, “The Eagle” is pushing back his comeback plans to September.