Javier Mendez believes Khabib Nurmagomedov has already fought the toughest challenge for his title and that was Conor McGregor.
In the main event of UFC 254, Nurmagomedov is set to defend his lightweight title against the interim champion, Justin Gaethje. In the lead up to the fight, many pundits have said Gaethje will be Khabib Nurmagomedov’s toughest test, which Mendez disagrees with.
“It is possible. It is 100 percent possible. We won’t know until we get in there. Just based on my thinking I am thinking Conor is,” Mendez said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “I could definitely be wrong. We need to be ready for the toughest fight. I like to view this as the toughest fight because Justin is a gamer and has got great wrestling. I still think it is Conor. But, it could very well be Justin.”
For Khabib Nurmagomedov’s training camp, there were a few massive differences. First off, his father, Abdulmanap passed away and was not part of it. Secondly, he could not do the camp at AKA and because of that, many figured we wouldn’t see Nurmagomedov until 2021.
However, Mendez says he isn’t surprised Khabib Nurmagomedov is returning so soon.
“No, I am not surprised but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was next year,” he said. “There are a lot of things going through his mind. There is a lot of things he needs to take care of. He needs to take on a big responsibility to take on the legacy of his father and do what his father wanted him to do.”
Against Justin Gaethje, Javier Mendez says the game plan is the same for Khabib Nurmagomedov and that is to maul his opponents.
The coach knows the leg kicks of “The Highlight” will be dangerous but are confident Khabib Nurmagomedov can avoid them.
For Mendez, he says the main difference is the fact Justin Gaethje has never fought anyone with the wrestling background of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“At the same time, we have fought leg kicker in Barboza, RDA,” Mendez explained. “It is not like he hasn’t faced anybody with wresting. Justin has never faced anything quite like Khabib and we, in all honesty, haven’t really faced anybody quite like Justin.”
Ultimately, Khabib Nurmagomedov and his team are confident they will hear “And Still” on Saturday night.
Do you agree with Javier Mendez that Conor McGregor is the toughest challenge for Khabib Nurmagomedov?