Justin Gaethje acknowledges that Khabib Nurmagomedov has demonstrated numerous times why he’s one of the best fighters on the planet, but “The Highlight’s” outlined why he could “absolutely” beat the new UFC champ.
Gaethje is preparing to take on Dustin Poirier at UFC on FOX 29 Saturday night, which will go down one week after, Nurmagomedov secured the lightweight crown. The vaunted grappler did so by earning a decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.
Although Nurmagomedov ran away with the bout on the judge’s scorecards, and left Iaquinta a bloody mess, since the fight there’s been a lot of talk about “The Eagle’s” performance. Some people, like Joe Rogan, believe the fight, although one sided, highlighted some deficiencies in Nurmagomedov’s stand-up game. While others have argued that in fact, the bout demonstrated Nurmagomedov has improved his striking, and that the noted wrestler elected to stand with Iaquinta and ignored his corner.
Well, Gaethje was asked about Nurmagomedov while talking to the media this week, and the former WSOF champ had this to say (quote via MMA Fighting):
“26-0, he’s No. 1 in the world on paper and he’s proven it over and over,” Gaethje said.
“I absolutely think I could beat him. Kick his legs off. He holds his chin up high and I’m an All-American wrestler, Division I, so I do think I could stop his takedowns.”
First off, it’s not a surprise of course, to hear Gaethje say this. After all, the guy’s only been defeated once, by Eddie Alvarez, and he’s one of the most rugged and game fighters on earth. Further, as he noted, Gaethje is a very good wrestler who can bang.
But, you do have to wonder how many of his feared legkicks he would be able to fire off, and or land, while facing Nurmagomedov’s ridiculous pressure and takedowns.
Nurmagomedov aside, it will be interesting to see how much Gaethje’s legkicks play a factor in his bout Saturday with Poirier. Gaethje also said this week he believes his legkicks will be his best weapon against the veteran. We shall see soon enough.
UFC on FOX 29 will be hosted by Glendale, Arizona.