Through 28 fights and 28 victories, Khabib Nurmagomedov has rarely tried to hide the strategy he plans to use to dismantle and otherwise dominate his competition and that’s not going to change ahead of his next title defense against Gaethje at UFC 254.
On that night, the undefeated UFC lightweight champion will seek to unify his title with the interim belt currently held by Justin Gaethje after he punished Tony Ferguson in their fight back in May before ultimately earning a fifth-round TKO.
Unlike many of his past opponents, Khabib Nurmagomedov will be going up against an accomplished wrestler in this fight with Gaethje earning All-American honors while he was part of the team at the University of Northern Colorado.
Of course, Gaethje has rarely turned to wrestling throughout his fight career but that doesn’t negate the skills he built after first hitting the mats when he was still just a child.
In fact, Nurmagomedov fully acknowledges that Gaethje has a tremendous wrestling background … he just doesn’t believe it’s going to alter the outcome.
“Nothing changes,” Nurmagomedov said about his game plan for Gaethje when speaking to reporters during UFC 254 media day. “I’m going to try wrestling with him. If he’s going to defend my takedowns for a long time, I’m going to try second, third, I’m going to try 100 times.”
“Of course, I’m going to box with him. I’m going to kick with him. It’s going to be kickboxing and wrestling mixed.”
Khabib vs Gaethje: Fight of the Year ?
If there’s one particular area of Gaethje’s grappling game that impresses Khabib it’s been the ability to stay off the ground with his opponents.
Even Gaethje has said in the past that he’ll never credit himself with being the best offensive wrestler in the world but even when he was competing in college, it was incredibly difficult for his opponents to drag him down to the mat.
In addition to his wrestling superiority, Khabib Nurmagomedov also feels like he’s ultimately just the smarter fighter when matched up against Gaethje.
Offensively, Gaethje is a force of nature who inflicts damage on his opponents like almost no one else in the UFC but that also comes at a cost. According to UFC stats, Gaethje actually absorbs more strikes (8.37 per minute) than he dishes out (7.74 per minute).
The former World Series of Fighting champion is more than willing to take a punch in order to give one back where as Nurmagomedov would rather not get hit at all.
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