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Can Justin Gaethje hang a loss on Khabib Nurmagomedov

  • How can Justin Gaethje be the first person to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov.
  • How will the UFC handle the lightweight situation they now have.
ANALYST
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Modified 12 May 2020, 03:46 IST

<a href=Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov' data-img-low='https://statics.sportskeeda.com/editor/2020/05/c6dd6-15892246733066-500.jpg' src='data:image/svg+xml,'>
Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov

When it's time to unify the lightweight strap, Justin Gaethje can do what 28 people have tried to do in the past by following a simple plan. And it's just nine words. Do the same thing you did against Tony Ferguson. Granted it's a lot easier said than done, but it is possible.

What Gaethje did versus "El Cucuy" was he stayed within himself. He finally wasn't willing to take 2 shots, to give 2 shots and see who was standing afterwards. At least after his coach Trevor Wittman asked him to pull his punches a little in order to save energy, Gaethje stopped throwing haymakers and started moving in and out. He refused to keep his head on the center line.

Gaethje softened Tony's legs with a brilliant best kicking game but again we didn't see the wrestling skills of the All-American; Probably because there was no urgency to use it, and on the ground Tony is hard to beat. So why fix what's not broken?

There is another reason that shouldn't be discounted, is that there was no crowd; both Daniel Cormier and Josh Thompson brought this fact up. Gaethje is someone that thrives on hearing and playing off of the crowds reaction. When he lands bombs and they go nuts, he throws more bombs, and the cycle continues. With no audience he focused on the task at hand, heeding Trevor's words. So what we witnessed from Justin is the "gym focus" he typically has.

Fights start on the feet, where Justin has the edge. That's undeniable. But would Gaethje who has yet in his UFC attempt to shoot a take down is another story. For as good as Tony is on the ground, Khabib is a whole different level.

Obviously the plan for Khabib will have to take different things into account. First and foremost, is that super heavy sambo style of Khabib. Nurmagomedov like Tony does get clipped. What we don't know is, can his jaw withstand a Gaethje shot? Outside of Conor McGregor, the Russian hasn't faced anyone with pure punching power.

At AKA Khabib deals with All-American wrestlers with better wrestling pedigrees than Justin in Deron Winn, Shawn Bunch, Romero Cotton, and DC. He's faced the power of Luke Rockhold, and Cain Velazquez. And his specific team headed by Islam Makhachev. The sambo chain wrestling styles from Daegestan are different than the Collegiate American Wrestling style. It's beyond relentless. And it's full in intricacies not seen anywhere else.

That's why once he has you down, you're as good as done. Once the soul is gone, the body shortly follows. That's what happens when you face Nurmagomedov. It's not the first take down that gets you, or the 2nd. It's the third, forth, and fifth ones that break you. That's the point in time where subconsciously you give your back up.

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When can we expect a title unification bout between Khabib and Gaethje?

Now whether this fight happens anytime soon is another story. And it won't fully be up to the UFC, Dana White, the fighters themselves, or quite frankly the fans. It will be up to the virus that is running amok on the planet. There's still World-wide restrictions in place for international meetings. Now, can Dana make a call to the White House and ask that he makes a deal with the Russian government? Sure, but it would look really really bad right now. Hence the real reason behind Fight Island. It's for International fights, at least that's what we were told from the start. Otherwise it's that virus that will let everyone know when International activities can begin again.

Not that Justin - Khabib shouldn't happen. In fact it's a win-win for manager Ali Abdel-aziz who has both fighters. So it behooves him to push for it. But it would benefit Justin more if it was like the Tony fight, held without a crowd. This way he can't play off of their reactions.

So in the meantime what's left to do? Have go between's. It's the only choice next to keeping everyone on ice. Which would do nobody any good. Gaethje's 2 MMA losses are both in the UFC. Only one fighter though is still there. Dustin Poirier. A re-match could easily be made.

As far as "The Eagle" goes, it has to be an international fighter. So the organization has a serious choice to make. Do they lose what would be a massive gate for a 2nd fight with Conor McGregor, or do they look elsewhere. Dan Hooker would be deserving, and frankly Charles Oliveira is on an impressive 7 fight win streak, all by finishes too.


Published 12 May 2020, 03:46 IST
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