The undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov believes that his former rival Conor McGregor is a better stand up fighter than his future opponent Justin Gaethje.
Khabib, who has never been defeated in his Pro mixed martial arts career, has been underestimated a lot when it comes to his striking abilities. Nothing more needs to be said about his wrestling abilities, as time and again we have witnessed him taking his opponents to the fence, and mauling them, be it Edson Barboza, Dustin Poirier, or Conor McGregor. However, he is still not appreciated enough for his striking game, especially after what we saw in his fight against McGregor.
Justin Gaethje’s extraordinary striking skills came into display when he went up against Tony Ferguson in a 25-minute battle. The interim champion was immediately seen to be Khabib’s biggest threat. However, this is not new to Khabib.
“Before the fight with (Edson) Barboza, they said that he was my most uncomfortable rival,” Khabib said (via RT Sport h/t MMAJunkie). “Then they said the same thing before the fight with Conor, then with (Dustin) Poirier. They didn’t have time to say that about (Al) Iaquinta, because they gave me a fight in a few hours. I am sympathetic to this, but journalists need to say something to warm up their interest in battle. But I kind of agree that Gaethje is a very good fighter. If he was bad he would not have fought for the belt. Is he better standing than Conor? I think no. My fighting IQ tells me that Conor is better standing than Gaethje.”
Khabib jumps into the trend
Lately, many fighters have adopted this strategy of supporting the fighters they have already defeated. Most of the times, this is only to display their own victories against them. Dustin Poirier vouched for Justin to win against Tony because Dustin has already defeated Gaethje. So Gathje’s win against Tony somehow also benefitted Dustin. Jon Jones has also recently expressed his support for Daniel Cormier before his fight with Stipe Miocic. Jones has defeated Cormier twice already, and if Cormier had won against Stipe, Jones’ stocks would’ve gone up.
This is a new pattern that we are observing in the MMA community these days, and it has proven to be quite beneficial to the fighters. Khabib seems to have adopted the same tactic by saying that Conor is a better striker than Justin because he has already defeated McGregor. It will be interesting to see Gaethje’s reaction to this remark.
Who do you think is the better fighter among McGregor and Gaethje?