The UFC’s lightweight title will certainly be linked on Oct. 24, Dana White revealed on Tuesday, as well as engaging storylines surrounding Khabib Nurmagomedov protecting his belt against interim champ Justin Gaethje function as a backdrop wherefore is most likely to be among the most significant fights in UFC history.
One of the most touching question mark borders Nurmagomedov, that lost his dad, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, on July 3 to issues caused by the coronavirus after he undertook heart surgical procedure. Their partnership was very close, and also Abdulmanap was likewise Khabib’s instructor.
Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought because defeating Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7, 2019. Just how will the layoff affect among the greatest competitors in MMA history? There’s talk he might want to deal with simply two times extra, and White said he’s open to the possibility of Nurmagomedov rounding off his job vs. Georges St-Pierre.
Gaethje (22-2, 5-2 UFC) was a Department I All-American wrestler who’s additionally among the most vibrant strikers in MMA. Will this be the right combination to hand Nurmagomedov (28-0, 12-0 UFC) his first loss? Gaethje damaged Tony Ferguson on May 9 to win the interim belt as well as will certainly have a lots of energy.
As well as obviously, there’s always the specter of Conor McGregor hanging over this fight. He states he’s retired, but doubters continue to be. After the Oct. 24 day was announced Tuesday, McGregor tweeted that he’s auctioning off items from his Jan. 18 sway Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, insisting they were from the last time he’ll enter the Octagon. Think him? Nurmagomedov has actually been consistent that he will not offer McGregor a rematch after handling him on Oct. 6, 2018, however Gaethje has been more open to the potential payday.
It will more than a year between Khabib’s fights, how do you expect the discharge to affect him?
Helwani: I do not. He was off for 11 months prior to he fought Poirier as well as looked just as excellent as ever. It’s not like he’s been wounded; he’s healthy and balanced as well as training. Obviously, the big X aspect is exactly how he’ll react to the death of his father, Abdulmanap. I prefer to not speculate on that, but it’s important to remember that Abdulmanap had not been simply Khabib’s papa, he was his instructor, coach as well as friend, too. It will be interesting to see exactly how he really feels mentally going into this set considering the terrible past few months for the Nurmagomedov household.
Okamoto: Not. Absolutely no. The something you hear time after time regarding Nurmagomedov– from literally everybody who knows him well– is that he takes no time off. It becomes part of what makes him special. The money, fame, success– none of it has actually changed his work values. His whole life has basically been invested in his gym. Also over the last a number of months of his dad’s life, there was proof and secondhand accounts of Nurmagomedov doing some kind of training. He’s had long discharges before, as well as clearly they have not been a hinderance, judging by his best record.
Raimondi: It will not. Nurmagomedov has taken lengthy discharges before. When he beat Dustin Poirier, he had not dealt with in 11 months. When he defeated Edson Barboza, Nurmagomedov had actually been out for 13 months. Justin Gaethje is an excellent fighter, as well as he is an absolute handful. If Gaethje were to get the better of Nurmagomedov, it’ll be due to the fact that he presents a challenging design competition. It’s not likely that the discharge will certainly play any variable.
Wagenheim: It’s not just the year off that will certainly influence Nurmagomedov yet specifically the family members catastrophe that occurred previously this month. To acquire some form of understanding of what Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov indicated to his kid, go find among the online video clips in which Khabib is inquired about his papa. The normally stoic boxer definitely lights up with the inmost childlike appreciation. Khabib’s papa was a trainer, an advisor, an ideas. That is irreplaceable.
In what areas do you see Gaethje having the advantage?
Helwani: Gaethje is a far better demonstrator and also strikes tougher than Nurmagomedov. If he can maintain this fight standing, I think he has as great of an opportunity as anybody at 155 pounds to be the initial person to defeat the champ. People typically fail to remember Gaethje has a solid fumbling background. His takedown defense is excellent. If he has the ability to pack a couple of takedowns and turn the fight right into a kickboxing match, watch out.
Okamoto: Ko power. And if we’re comparing him to previous Nurmagomedov challengers, cardio. Nurmagomedov drowns his opponents. They are a lower variation of themselves as the fight drags on because of large exhaustion. However Gaethje is a cardio maker. So is Tony Ferguson, which became part of the allure of that battle, prior to the pandemic canceled it. Gaethje, for my cash, has a far better opportunity of packing a takedown than Ferguson, though, and also equivalent endurance. If Gaethje rocks Nurmagomedov– which, do not neglect, Nurmagomedov has actually been hit– he has a far better chance of packing a takedown than the majority of, as well as his killer instinct is with the roofing system in his recent fights.
Raimondi: On the feet is where Gaethje succeeds. He needs to be able to maintain the battle there as long as feasible in order to have the very best chance to win. Gaethje claimed on Joe Rogan’s show recently that he’ll need to kick Nurmagomedov 8 times in the calf and also Nurmagomedov will certainly be compromised. It appears like his strategy will certainly be to damage the legs of Nurmagomedov enough so that Nurmagomedov’s fumbling will not go to its best. That isn’t a strategy others have actually had– or at least have actually carried out– versus undefeated Nurmagomedov. Gaethje does have the skill set best suited for it, however.
Wagenheim: If I were cornering Gaethje, the last word I would certainly claim to him as he went out for Round 1 would certainly be “calf bones.” He is savage with his reduced kicks, and he needs to use them. Repeatedly and also once more. Sure, the No. 1 key for the challenger will be staying away from the cage, where Khabib does his best deal with takedowns. But Gaethje can not approach this fight with a protective state of mind. He should place Khabib on the defensive. Gaethje is without a doubt the better striker. He has the strikes and kicks to injure the champ. Use them.
Where do you provide the edge to Khabib?
Helwani: Pretty noticeable one: fumbling. I take into consideration Nurmagomedov to be the most dominant fighter in mixed martial arts background because of his fumbling, but it’s more than just that. It’s his strength, his unrelenting assault, his confidence … the entire bundle is simply excellent. He doesn’t simply whip his opponents, he asphyxiates them. Can he do the very same to a game Justin Gaethje? I am excited to figure out.
Okamoto: Clearly grappling. And also truthfully, that’s it. Gaethje is a much better demonstrator. More power. He has a comparable degree of experience to Nurmagomedov. They’re both completely willing as well as comfortable to go five rounds. They’re both intelligent. They’re both well-coached. The only area I see Nurmagomedov substantially much better in is grappling, however he’s typically just so better because location, that’s all it takes.
Raimondi: Fumbling, certainly. Grappling also. That’s the vital to the whole battle. Can Gaethje prosper in keeping Nurmagomedov off him? No person has actually been able to do that yet, and also it’s been the cornerstone regarding why Nurmagomedov has been dominant. If Nurmagomedov takes Gaethje down, will Gaethje have the ability to come back up as well as in position to strike? As well as how much does Nurmagomedov’s fumbling impact Gaethje’s striking? Will Gaethje be busied with stressing over stopping takedowns? Those are the examples Nurmagomedov does to a challenger. He’s the best mixed martial arts wrestler presently in the UFC. Everyone knows it’s coming, but no person has actually been able to do anything concerning it.
Wagenheim: I see 8 advantages for Khabib: the wall surfaces of the Octagon. The champ has shown, time and again, that if he gets an opponent against the cage, he’s going to get a takedown. And once he has the battle on the canvas, he is unmatched at maintaining it there. He’s actually gotten better at that. Early in his UFC run, in 2013, Khabib had 21 takedowns against Abel Trujillo. But that indicated Trujillo managed to get back to his feet 18 times in the three-round bout. Current opponents have not been as effective at getting out from beneath the Dagestani lead covering. As we have actually seen in his past two battles specifically, Nurmagomedov utilizes his takedowns as well as smothering top position to wear down an opponent and soften him for the surface.
Will Gaethje be Khabib’s a lot of dangerous challenger?
Helwani: I think so. Due to his battling history and the method he strikes. I believe Conor McGregor could have offered Nurmagomedov problems, but we later on discovered he really did not educate for that battle effectively. So that’s why I think this will certainly be Nurmagomedov’s hardest fight to day. If the Gaethje that defeated Tony Ferguson in May turns up against Nurmagomedov in October, I think he has an excellent possibility to defeat the champ. If he deals with clever and doesn’t obtain careless, which he hasn’t for a while now, I like his chances a whole lot. Remember, formally, Nurmagomedov has lost just one round in his 12 UFC battles, and that was Round 3 vs. McGregor 2 years back.
Okamoto: Yes. It’s so cliché to claim that, yet it’s the fact. It would have been Tony Ferguson had that battle really occurred [prior to pandemic-related traveling constraints canceled it], and Gaethje is coming off a dominant efficiency versus Ferguson. Gaethje won’t intend to give up a takedown, certainly, but he won’t live in worry of one. His rushing capability is significant, and he’s strong in the clinch. He’s not a headhunter; he’ll throw effectively to the body. And also he backs his challengers up. We have actually never ever actually seen Nurmagomedov have to take a step back. He’s unconventional, quicker than he probably obtains credit rating for, and also as soon as he even touches your hips, you remain in a bad area. Make indisputable, Gaethje is still an underdog below. Yet of course, this is Nurmagomedov’s toughest fight to day.
Raimondi: Nurmagomedov has actually battled numerous elite fighters in the light-weight division, however it does appear like Gaethje has actually the attributes needed to defeat a person like Nurmagomedov. Whether that in fact takes place is very much up in the air. Nurmagomedov is really one of the greatest boxers of perpetuity. And couple of, if any type of, have actually really come close to beating him. Gaethje, I would say, in his existing, more patient iteration has as good of a possibility as anyone to end Nurmagomedov’s undefeated touch. That doesn’t indicate he’ll do it, but Gaethje is a legitimate risk.
Wagenheim: Gaethje has the tools to make this Nurmagomedov’s most difficult difficulty. But so did Dustin Poirier. Therefore did Conor McGregor. They both obtained wrecked. I suppose one could claim Gaethje encompasses the very best of Poirier (slick hurting) and the very best of McGregor (power striking), so he’s a more multifaceted trouble to address. But the truth is, we won’t understand the response to this concern until Nurmagomedov has actually Gaethje clinched versus the cage … as he will, at some time early in the battle. If the fighters most likely to the canvas with the champ on top, and also the battle stays there, Gaethje will end up just like all who came before. However if Gaethje can get off the cage as well as different, take the fight to the facility of the Octagon, Khabib can have troubles.
Do you expect the victor to deal with Conor McGregor?
Helwani: Difficult to state right now. McGregor wishes to battle, yet they just aren’t crazy about getting him a battle due to the fact that they can not earn money off the gate today. It’s a real shame that we have a healthy, concentrated McGregor, that was dead set on combating three times in 2020, and also now right here we are talking about main events in October and he has actually dealt with just as soon as. So, I would not be stunned if they maintain him on the sideline, but I also would not be surprised if they get him a battle before the champion prepares to return. I assume they need to do the latter. Keep him energetic. Give the people what they desire.
Okamoto: If Gaethje wins, yes. You ‘d certainly need to consider the opportunity of an instant rematch as well, yet if I were to think, Gaethje would certainly combat McGregor. If Nurmagomedov wins, not as much of a home run. At all. I definitely still believe it’s a possibility, because the UFC wants it as well as would certainly toss a lot of cash around to attempt as well as make it occur. Yet if Nurmagomedov really wants to leave after 2 even more battles– as well as he’s currently defeated McGregor emphatically when– I think we would certainly see him abandon the title, allow McGregor battle whomever for it (Gaethje, Dustin Poirier), as well as Nurmagomedov would certainly combat Georges St-Pierre. If St-Pierre agrees to find out of retired life, of course, which I believe he would be.
Raimondi: I do. That appears to be one of the most likely scenario. But it also is geared on when the winner would be able to reverse and fight once more. McGregor wanted to stay energetic in 2020, and if he combats the champion of this round, then he probably will have combated just when this year, back in January. McGregor announced his retired life, dissatisfied with what the UFC was providing him with regard to battles. We’ll see whether watching this one piques his interest in returning against the champion.
Wagenheim: If Nurmagomedov obtains his hand elevated, I do not see McGregor in his instant future. Khabib has actually stated he would not provide Conor a rematch till he has made it, and January’s gain a faded Donald Cerrone– the Irishman’s only triumph considering that 2016– was not nearly enough to merit a title shot. Naturally, McGregor is the sporting activity’s biggest golden goose, and also the UFC certainly would love to place him on its largest phase. So if Gaethje wins, he can end up resisting McGregor. Yet that would be a shame, as there are extra deserving challengers.