Justin Gaethje believes that former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was “in a bad spot” prior to the fight-ending submission.
Nurmagomedov tapped out Gaethje with a second-round triangle choke in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 254. The win improved Nurmagomedov’s MMA record to 29-0 including a perfect 13-0 mark in the UFC. Of course, what he did after the fight is what everyone is talking about this morning, as “The Eagle” announced his retirement from the sport immediately after in an announcement that came as a surprise to many fans and media.
Speaking to ESPN following the event, Gaethje said that he believes that he had the champ hurt from numerous low kicks — two judges gave the first round to the challenger — before Nurmagomedov dug deep, landed a takedown, and then got the finish.
“It sucks. I’m hurt. It’s emotional. Ultimately, it’s the name of the game, man. I had him in trouble. I wasn’t very many kicks away from him not being able to walk. He’s going to limp — limping for at least the next three weeks. That’s nothing to be proud of because I lost, but, I felt alive. I felt great. I believe I did a great job of causing damage. Keeping the distance, controlling the distance, threatening, and causing damage. I caused damage in there,” Gaethje said (via MMAMania.com).
“I know he was in a bad spot. Even if he wasn’t, he did what he had to do. Took me down. He is very strong. I know he made his father so proud.”
Gaethje is correct in that he landed some nasty kicks that seemed to slow Nurmagomedov down a bit on the feet. But once again the former long-time UFC lightweight champion went to his bread-and-butter and landed the takedown he needed.
Do you agree with Justin Gaethje that Khabib Nurmagomedov was in trouble before he locked in the fight-ending submission at UFC 254?