Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has competed against some of the best stars in the promotion; including Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and former interim champion Justin Gaethje. But he says that Gaethje was by far his toughest test in the octagon because of the damage output he put on Nurmagomedov.
After retiring following his victory over Gaethje at UFC 254, Nurmagomedov has remained active in the MMA scene as a coach for his teammates Islam Makhachev, Islam Mamedov, and his younger cousin, Usman. He hasn’t done a ton of media since retiring but made a stop by legendary boxing champion Mike Tyson‘s podcast alongside the former UFC double-champion, Henry Cejudo.
Nurmagomedov has had plenty of time to reflect on his illustrious career inside the octagon and revealed to Tyson who his toughest test was in fighting; which he said was Gaethje.
“This guy [Justin Gaethje] hit like a truck, you know. Nobody hit me harder than Justin Gaethje. His kick, his punch, his left hook, right hook, right uppercut,” Nurmagomedov told Tyson. “I make him hit me, you know. When I go to the cage and I was sitting like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna bring him into the deep ocean…I’m gonna make him tired in stand-up and I’m gonna bring him on the ground and finish him.”
Gaethje earned a title shot against Nurmagomedov after defeating another former interim champion, Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. The pay-per-view was the first for the UFC after a brief stoppage in events due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Nurmagomedov took some hard shots from Gaethje early on in their fight, especially in the opening round. In Round 2, he went on to submit Gaethje after surviving an early barrage of strikes.
Do you think Justin Gaethje was Khabib Nurmagomedov’s toughest test inside the UFC octagon?