The undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov puts his easy title on the line against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
The match between two champions, one officiating and the other temporary, is arguably the largest of the easy title fights in recent years. It’s definitely the biggest fight of the year. In one corner stands an unbeaten Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) and in the other Gaethje, who earned the right to fight for the title by beating Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is the underdog and he recognizes the importance of the fight for him. “It’s the biggest fight of my life – absolutely. There is no doubt about that, ”said Gaethje in the conference call with media members.
“I will not allow outside influences to affect the way I think, act, or prepare. It really just stays true to my belief that “being better than yesterday (and) making better decisions than yesterday”. I’ve been doing this for eight weeks and I still have three and a half. I will be ready as I can. ”
Gaethje, whose 20 of 22 wins in MMA were knocked out, needs a strategy to become the undisputed champion by beating someone who has only lost one round so far. “My confidence is probably my biggest factor right now, coupled with the strength I have and the coach I have. That is a dangerous combination, ”said Gaethje. “I don’t care if I go to the end of the day, as long as I make my family happy, as long as I’m proud of my performance, it doesn’t matter. That is what makes me the most dangerous. I don’t know if he has ever fought anyone like that – he probably has. ”
Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi. AP
“And another factor is a lot of hard work, a lot of skill and a little bit of luck in this game. Everyone can go to sleep. He’s a fool if he doesn’t think he can go to sleep. ”
Nurmagomedov has 28 men in the octagon, most recently Dustin Poirier in September 2019, and Gaethje, a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, is next. “I’ll try to wrestle with him. If he wants to defend my takedown once, I’ll try the second, third and 100 times and of course I’ll box and kick with him, you know, ”said the Dagestani champion on his strategy.
He is confident that he will finish the competition in the third or fourth round at most. “It will be kickboxing and wrestling like a mix. My goal is to make him tired. I’ll make him tired, that’s my goal. Maybe lap number three, lap number four, is scheduled to take him down. ”
Although he gives Gaethje the honor of motivating him to train harder for the next fight and to be fatal against Ferguson, Nurmagomedov is already looking forward to the next fight. “I dont know. You know, for example, I’ll kill Justin Gaethje in the cage, but what else? This is a very good question. We will see. You know i love the competition. I love competing with the best fighters in the world. That’s why I’m here. I’m not in the UFC to make money. I have a lot of business projects outside of the UFC. I can make money. It’s a good question – very good question. ”
Khabib has already announced that UFC President Dana White is next for something “special” for him. “Dana told me he had something special for me after this fight. I told him, ‘Please keep this (to yourself). After the fight we will talk. ‘ They said, “We have very great things for you after this fight.” We will see. ”
And it couldn’t be Conor McGregor or Poirier at all. “I’m really excited when I think of Georges St-Pierre,” Nurmagomedov continued ESPN’s first take. “I don’t know if he wants to fight me or not, he can do weight – 155 (pounds) or not – but this fight honestly makes me excited.”
“And I think I’ll be a very, very big fight against Georges. Like a big fight for fans, a big fight for pay-per-view, a big fight for analytics for everyone. This is the only fight in UFC. after Gaethje that makes me very excited. “There has been speculation that Khabib’s next opponent would be McGregor and Poirier’s winner (scheduled for January 23rd).
“When I think of both Dustin and Conor, they don’t give me good energy, they don’t give me motivation. Fight for what For my legacy? I already put these guys on my list. I’ve already hit her. With these guys everything is done. ”
St-Pierre, who held a 26-2-0 record and is widely recognized as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, has considered getting out of retirement, but only against Nurmagomedov.
“If I come back it would be for a fight,” said St-Pierre ESPN. “And I have to take the biggest fish for myself. And – for me, I think – the best man at the moment, his name is Khabib.
“As a fighter, the most exciting thing is to take the man who appears invincible and unbeatable. He has an aura of invincibility. But it’s also the scariest thing you can do. ”
Justin Gaethje (L) defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 to win this title match. AP
It is already lucky for Gaethje to come here. Originally, Khabib was slated to face Ferguson at UFC 249, but the coronavirus pandemic forced plans to change and brought Justin into the picture. He beat Ferguson and is within reach of the title belt.
“Justin’s a warrior, but my combat IQ is greater than his. He has a trainer (Trevor Wittman) who gives him good advice and that was evident during his fight against Tony, ”said Khabib.
Given the open schedules of both of them and the brave lookahead from Khabib, it will be interesting to see if Gaethje can finally end the series.
Watch UFC 244 with an easy title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, LIVE and exclusively on the SONY TEN 2 and SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) channels on October 24th from 11.30pm (IST).
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