Following his knockout win over Edson Barboza at UFC Philadelphia, Justin Gaethje proclaimed that he is Khabib Nurmagomedov’s toughest challenge.
Nurmagomedov’s coach, Javier Mendez does not agree with that statement. In fact, the longtime AKA head coach believes Gaethje isn’t much of a threat to “The Eagle”.
“Not much,” Nurmagomedov’s coach, Javier Mendez, said on The MMA Hour. “Not much, because he ain’t going to be able to stop the takedown. None of those guys can. [Nurmagomedov will] take them all down, and if they don’t have much of a ground game, they’re done.
“The only way it becomes interesting is if Khabib decides to do things. Look back on all his fights, it’s only when he decides to stand with people that it becomes a little bit trickier. I mean, he stood with Conor (McGregor) so he gave Conor a chance, and I’m begging for him, ‘Go back to father’s plan. Go back to father’s plan.’ He screws with me all the time. He did the same with Michael Johnson. I’m telling him, ‘What are you doing? Go back to father’s plan.’ Father’s plan, that’s what I call ‘just wrestle the guy, take him down and wrestle him.’ And he does that all the damn time.”
Why Mendez believes Gaethje isn’t much of a threat is the fact that Nurmagomedov’s toughness would outlast Gaethje’s power in a potential fight.
“The guy can take a shot, he doesn’t even get fazed,” Mendez said. “I mean, look, Barboza kicks him in the head, it didn’t even look like, what, nothing. And then Michael Johnson taps him right on the head and I’m like, ‘Dude, he hit you.’ And he goes, ‘No, he didn’t.’ And I go, ‘Yes, he did. He hit you with a decent shot. I mean, you didn’t show it very much, but you can’t get caught like that too much.’ But it’s up to Khabib. Khabib is the reason why these fights are more standup than they need to be. My choice is always, just take them and smash them. And he could do that to every one of these guys.”
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This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/1/2019