Justin Gaethje v Khabib Nurmagamedov is one of the most exciting match-ups of the year. The Russian champion currently holds an unbeaten 28-0 record. The worst adversity he has faced in the UFC so far is a straight-left from Michael Johnson as well as a rear-naked choke attempt by Dustin Poirier.
Meanwhile, Gaethje is renowned for his crazy action fights. However, he settled down in his last couple of fights to unleash some slick striking. ‘The Highlight’ totally dominated Tony Ferguson in his last clash to win the interim lightweight title.
Now Gaethje and Nurmagamedov will fight to unite the lightweight title. Some people believe that Gaethje has the best chance in the division to win this one. Who do you think will take the victory?
Gaethje wants to drag Khabib through his own blood. He recognizes that the Russian has rarely faced adversity. So, in short, he wants to make life very uncomfortable for the Dagestani fighter. ‘The Highlight’ belives that the sight of his own blood will unsettle Khabib.
“I know I’m going to see his blood. I want him to see his blood and I want to see his reaction. He isn’t as crazy as me, that’s the thing,” Justin Gaethje said to ESPN. “I think he is crazy and loves competition but he isn’t quite as crazy as me. He also hasn’t seen his blood many times, I’m sure. His style of fighting is not something where you are looking for blood. I bet that doesn’t even cross his mind that he will see his own blood. That has never been a factor for him.”
One man with a vested interest in this fight is Michael Chandler. The UFC signed the former Bellator champion to a multi-fight contract. But they shocked the division by naming him as an alternate for the title fight. Hopefully, it won’t happen but it is conceivable that he will get an immediate title shot. In sum, Chandler believes that Khabib has an advantage over Gaethje.
“You’re crazy if you bet against him not being able to take Justin down,” Chandler told ESPN. “You’re crazy if you think Justin is going to be able to go in there and land combinations at will like he was Tony Ferguson. The reason I like the Tony Ferguson fight is, he’s a standing target. He’s a stationary target. He takes punches in order to give punches later on down the line.
“Khabib’s not that guy. Khabib is going to be in Justin’s face. We haven’t seen Justin back up a lot. I think Justin is going to be fighting on his heels a lot, which is never something we’ve seen him able to do. His leg kicks won’t be as effective on his heels. His power punches, his hooks, aren’t going to be as effective on his heels. And I think we’re still going to see, I won’t say dominant victory by Khabib, but I think we’re going to see a lot of the same Khabib-esque type of fight, just in a less dominant fashion.”
Chandler acknowledged that Gaethje looked incredible in his last fight. But at the end of the day, until it looks like Khabib will lose, it’s difficult to bet against him.
“I think Justin Gaethje looked like the best lightweight in the world in May when he fought Tony Ferguson,” Chandler said. “That version of Justin Gaethje, who stepped into that cage calm and composed and confident, smart and sharp, fighting with the tenacity that he normally brings to the cage, but not the overzealous, overanxious Justin Gaethje ‘I wanna rip your head off’ fighter that we’re used to seeing – that was the best version of Justin Gaethje that we’ve ever seen.
“Now, you take into consideration that Justin Gaethje was a Division-I wrestler, you take into consideration that we haven’t seen his wrestling, but know he’s got great athleticism, great hips, great instincts inside the cage – I think he poses the best threat that we’ve seen thus far against a guy like Khabib. But I still think you’re crazy if you do bet against Khabib.”