Khabib Nurmagomedov believes Dagestani and American wrestling styles are miles apart. “The Eagle” points to the former’s relentlessness and endurance as far supreme.
The UFC Lightweight champion Nurmagomedov believes his Dagestani wrestling prowess will be far too great for Justin Gaethje’s when they battle it out at UFC 254 on Saturday. This is despite Gaethje being a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestling champion. (H/T MMAJunkie.com)
“I think it’s a big difference,” Nurmagomedov said at a pre-fight media scrum Wednesday. “I know he knows how to wrestle. Worry about wrestling 25 minutes. I told (Daniel Cormier) today, ‘When you fight with Stipe Miocic last time, you grabbed his leg one time, and you take him down. He got up very quickly, and you’re finished.’ All other minutes (went) standup. Between me and DC is a big difference.”
Nurmagomedov acknowledges that Gaethje’s wrestling background is far better than his last two foes in the Octagon, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Nevertheless, the undefeated champion believes the fight will go the same way as always. He will drag Gaethje to the floor over and over. Just like how he has done to his previous 28 opponents.
“If I’m going to try to take him down once and he defends, I’m going to go all night. I’m going to go all night,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is the big difference between U.S. wrestling and Dagestan wrestling. … They all good when they stand up, but when I grab them, it changes a little bit. I think more than Dustin and Conor and other guys, he knows to wrestle. It’s going to be a little bit hard. I prepared myself to try to take him down 100 times. It’s going to be interesting Saturday night.”
The Russian looks to make his third successful defence of his UFC lightweight throne against Gaethje on Fight Island. This will be his first fight since the tragic loss of his father via coronavirus complications back in July.
Gaethje has been a man on a mission. He’s catapulted himself to the top of the 155-pound shark pit of a division. One thing is for certain with a Justin Gaethje fight, sparks will fly and blood will be spilt. Gaethje has won four back to back TKO victories over James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone. Gaethje then stepped in for Khabib and ran through Tony Ferguson with a fifth-round TKO at UFC 249 in May. This battering earnt him the interim title and a ticket to the champion, as well as ending Ferguson’s 12-fight win streak in devastating fashion.
On Saturday, the interim champ takes on the undefeated and undisputed champion at UFC 254.
Will Khabib Nurmagomedov continue his reign as one of the most dominant champions the sport has ever seen? Or, will Justin Gaethje cause an upset to steal the show?