Justin Gaethje may very well be the toughest opponent that Khabib Nurmagomedov has yet to face. Although Nurmagomedov has good striking, there is no doubt that Gaethje has a clear advantage in the stand-up. He also has the power advantage over Nurmagomedov.
By now everybody knows Khabib’s game plan coming into each fight: Take his opponent down and smash them into another dimension. Even though fans and fighters are aware of his tactic, nobody has been able to put a stop to it. Gaethje boasts an impressive 80% takedown defence rate, but even when he has been taken down, Gaethje has been quick getting back to his feet.
I believe this will be an incredible fight. Both Gaethje and Nurmagomedov are going to test one another. We are yet to see how Nurmagomedov deals with being punched in the face and bleeding. Because Nurmagomedov is so good at executing his game plan, it is a rare sight to see him bleed, but given that Gaethje has been dubbed the most violent fighter in the most violent sport, Nurmagomedov is likely to bleed. We don’t know how Gaethje will handle the relentless pressure of Nurmagomedov hunting for takedowns, and putting all his weight over his back.
Keys to Victory:
Gaethje will have to utilise his takedown defence to keep the fight standing. He needs to mix in leg kicks with his striking to slow Nurmagomedov down and make it difficult for him to get the takedowns.
Nurmagomedov must use his best weapon. His wrestling. He needs to put on the pressure and be relentless with his takedowns. Nurmagomedov needs to wear down Gaethje and tire him out, dragging him into deeper rounds and then looking for the finish.
Gaethje does present the biggest challenge to Nurmagomedov’s title, but I still see Khabib retaining it with a submission finish in the fourth round.
Do you think Justin Gaethje is Nurmagomedov’s biggest challenge? Does he succeed in becoming the new champion or does he fall short? Leave a comment with your thoughts.