UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje said that he has to stay away from the fence and not let the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov take him to the fence or else he’s ‘Screwed’.
Handing an undefeated champion his first loss is rarely an easy task. Since early in his UFC career, opponents have known how Khabib Nurmagomedov intends to defeat them, yet time and time again, they wind up stuck in the same positions and suffering the same outcome.
Justin Gaethje is the latest to approach this monumental challenge with confidence, and he spoke about the match up at the UFC 254 press conference. “I expect him to believe that’s going to happen,” Gaethje told reporters. “I’ve been telling myself that’s going to happen and it drives me every single day. I’m a performer. I always show up under the lights and I’ve been doing this as long as he has. This is ingrained in us. On Saturday night I will leave everything, give everything, and be proud of my performance.”
Gaethje wants to solve the Nurmagomedov Puzzle
Gaethje became the interim lightweight champion with an outstanding performance against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in May, capping it off with a fifth-round stoppage via TKO. After dropping back-to-back fights to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, the 31-year-old has finished his last four fights en route to this opportunity to do what no man has done before.
There’s a lot to consider when grappling with Nurmagomedov, and thankfully, Gaethje has his extensive wrestling background to rely on. Admittedly, Gaethje is a fan of Nurmagomedov’s work, which is why he didn’t have to sit down and study a lot of footage on the champion. He’s well aware that he needs to keep things at a distance to be successful.
“I didn’t watch any tape on Khabib,” Gaethje stated. “I’ve watched his fights throughout his career because I’m a huge fan of everything. I’ve always focused on being my best self. He hasn’t fought someone that’s grappled as long as he has, I have. Everyone says they’re ready and I will not allow him to put me on the fence. If I do, then I’m screwed.
“My plan is if we’re gonna grapple, let’s grapple in the middle at all times. I’ve said it 1,000 times; I cause damage. I have dense bones and I’m gonna kick his legs. That’s where we’re gonna start and we’ll go from there.”
Justin Gaethje is definitely one of his kind when it comes to the mental aspect of the fight game. He told reporters that he enjoys the ‘CHAOS’ during the fighting.
“If you go back a couple of years ago, I think I said I wanted to go to Brazil and fight their best, Ireland and fight their best, and I wanted to come to Russia and fight Khabib,” Gaethje explained. “That’s the chaos. They wish ill on you they don’t necessarily want you to die or anything but that hostility, I thrive in.
“I can’t wait for there to be people back up. If 100,000 people were wanting me to die it would be fantastic. It would be such a great feeling.”
At UFC 254 when Justin Gaethje fights the reigning defending UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, he has to bring his best version of himself to do what 28 others couldn’t.
Who do guys think will win Gaethje or Nurmagomedov?
Purchase the UFC merch here.