Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Justin Gaethje for the undisputed lightweight championship at UFC 254. Interestingly, Khabib and Gaethje are both from a wrestling background, leading to the main narrative of the fight - will the American be able to stop the Russian's takedowns?
In the pre-fight press conference, Khabib was asked the difference between American and Dagestani wrestling:
What difference between Dagestan wrestling and American wrestling? This is a good question. I think it’s a big difference. I know he knows how to wrestle but what about wrestling for 25 minutes?
I told DC today, ‘when you fight with Stipe Miocic last time, you grabbed his leg one time and you take him down. He get up very quickly and that’s it, you finish.’ Other minutes all going stand up but between me and DC is a big difference. If I’m going to try and take him [Gaethje] down once and he defends it good, I’m going to go all night. This is a big difference between US wrestling and Dagestan wrestling.
Khabib Nurmagomedov promises to wrestle for 25 mins against Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje, in many people's eyes, presents the most difficult stylistic match-up for the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Russian has dominated every fighter in his way to 28-0, losing just 1 round in his career.
Gaethje was an NCAA Division 1 All-American during his time at the University of Northern Colorado. However, the 31-year-old uses his wrestling predominantly to defend takedowns from his opponents, spending just 17 seconds in the bottom position in his UFC career so far.
Khabib openly laid out his game plan for the fight during the press conference, stating that he would be looking to extensively wrestle for the duration of the five rounds. It'll be interesting to see if Gaethje can use his wrestling prowess to keep the fight on the feet.
If he is taken down, we are yet to see the 31-year-old's guard come into play during his MMA career. Despite an impressive run of finishes against James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson, the fight against Khabib is expected to present different challenges to the American.Published 22 Oct 2020, 12:43 IST