The final fight of the UFC’s latest visit to Fight Island is set to be a mouthwatering one as Khabib Nurmagomedov seeks to defend his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, and in the build-up to the clash the two stars have been discussing their gameplans.
“I’m going to try wrestling with him,” Nurmagomedov said at a UFC 254 virtual event. “If he’s going to defend my takedown one time, I’m going to try second, third, (all the way to) 100 times.
“Of course, I’m going to box with him and kick with him. It’s going to be kickboxing and wrestling – like, mixed.
“My goal is to make him tired. I’m going to make him tired. This is my goal. Maybe in Round No. 3 or Round No. 4, my plan is (to) finish him.”
Khabib did praise Gaethje’s team, but made it clear that in the Octagon he believes the has the superior fight IQ.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a chess match, you know? I think my fight IQ is much better than Justin Gaethje’s.
“He’s just a tough guy. He likes fighting. He likes blood, you know? He’s like a real warrior. But when we talk about fighting IQ, I think my fighting IQ is much better than his, you know?”
“I think Justin, he has a very good coach – just my opinion. He has a great coach. If you can watch his last fight with Tony Ferguson, having cornered him, (Wittman) gave him very good advice.
“I think he has a very good and very great coach. Of course, Justin can fight. He can go deep. He has heart.
“But if you’re talking about fighting IQ, I think I have much better than him.”
Meanwhile, Gaethje was also touting his coaches as an asset, while also talking up his punching power and self confidence.
“My confidence is probably my biggest factor right now paired with the power that I possess paired with the coach that I have,” Gaethje said. “That’s a dangerous combination.
“And I don’t care if I win or lose at the end of the day. As long as I make my family happy, as long as I’m proud of my performance, then it doesn’t matter. That’s what makes me most dangerous. I don’t know if he’s fought somebody like that.”
Gaethje also plans to stay busy if he does get taken down by the wrestling ace.
“If I do get taken down, I’ve got to make him work like his life depends on it. If he does take me down, I need to make sure that I threaten him with something up the middle that is going to make him hesitate the next time. That’s what I’ll be in there doing.”
But in the end, Gaethje is just eager to once again demonstrate his natural finishing ability and prove that Khabib is not unbreakable.
“I’m going to try to beat him into submission. I want him to quit. I want him to know I’m the superior athlete, the superior man. That’s the goal of this game.”