We are less than a week away from UFC 254, where perhaps the most anticipated fight of the year is set to headline the evening. Interim champion Justin Gaethje takes on perhaps the most dominant champion in UFC history, the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, in the UFC Lightweight championship unification bout.
Justin Gaethje has looked relaxed in his recent media interactions going into the title fight but has made it clear that this will be the “biggest fight of my career”.
In a recent interview with Aaron Bronsteter, Justin Gaethje revealed how he keeps himself motivated ahead of his bout with Nurmagomedov. When asked whether he already has a script written in his head for the fight, Justin Gaethje replied saying,
“No. It’s the same as every fight. I tell myself every day that he is going to kick my a** and embarrass me. So I get up, I work hard, I work as hard as I can…….I trust in the process and trust in myself”.
He further added that this fear keeps him “grounded” and helps him concentrate to the best possible extent.
Justin Gaethje set to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 254
Justin Gaethje got his title shot after a devastating 5th round stoppage of the former number 1 contender Tony Ferguson in May earlier this year.
Incidentally, the Justin Gaethje-Tony Ferguson fight was not the original plan for the UFC. Ferguson was set to take on Khabib (for the umpteenth time), but the fight fell out due to the pandemic. Thus, Justin Gaethje was roped in as a replacement and the bout was scheduled to be for the interim lightweight championship.
Tony Ferguson, who himself is considered one of the most brutal, unorthodox, and technically sound strikers, was outclassed in the fight since round 1 and seemed to have no answers for Justin’s kicks and punches. He took substantial damage throughout the fight and was visibly hurt, prompting the referee to stop the contest in the 5th round.
Gaethje then famously disowned the interim belt saying that he wanted “The Real Thing”.
His folkstyle wrestling and his willingness to take damage to cause damage has resulted in Gaethje being widely considered as the biggest challenge of Khabib’s undefeated career so far. Gaethje has also stated in a recent interview that his advantage lies in his style as Khabib’s approach is “not to get hurt” contrary to Justin’s approach of “ending the fight”.Published 20 Oct 2020, 14:28 IST