Justin Gaethje is widely considered the toughest matchup for Khabib Nurmagomedov stylistically. There are many reasons for that. Physically, Justin Gaethje has the strongest wrestling background to thwart Khabib’s world-renowned grappling skills; and mentally, Gaethje competes with 0 traces of fear and is always ready for war. But speaking to reports at a virtual UFC 254 media conference, Khabib believes he is ahead of Gaethje on both fronts, beginning with an advantage in the fight IQ category.
“I think Justin, he has a very good coach – just my opinion,” Nurmagomedov said. “He has a great coach. If you can watch his last fight with Tony Ferguson, having cornered him, (Wittman) gave him very good advice. I think he has a very good and very great coach. Of course, Justin can fight. He can go deep. He has heart. But if you’re talking about fighting IQ, I think I have much better than him.”
As for the wrestling background of Gaethje, Khabib does not plan on changing anything about his approach. And if Gaethje’s 100% takedown defense rate holds up in the early goings of the fight, the champion will not allow that to deter him. In fact, the champion even has a rough estimate on when he believes the fight will come to a close.
“I’m going to try wrestling with him,” Nurmagomedov disclosed. “If he’s going to defend my takedown one time, I’m going to try second, third, 100 times. Of course, I’m going to box with him and kick with him. It’s going to be kickboxing and wrestling – like, mixed. My goal is to make him tired. I’m going to make him tired. This is my goal. Maybe in Round No. 3 or Round No. 4, my plan is (to) finish him.”
We’ll see how accurate Khabib’s prediction is in less than three weeks when Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje take part in one of the most anticipated fights in UFC lightweight history.
Do you think the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje fight will play out how Khabib envisions it will?