UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje believes losing his father to COVID-19 will be a “driving factor” for Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away at the age of 57 in July after a fatal battle with COVID-19. It’s a big loss for the sport, but most of all it’s a big loss for “The Eagle”. His father was his coach and mentor and he will be missing him in his corner. Despite the loss, Nurmagomedov continues to press on with his career, and he puts his title on the line against interim champion Gaethje this weekend at UFC 254.
Much has been made of how Nurmagomedov will react to the loss of his father, but if you ask Gaethje, Nurmagomedov is going to use it as fuel to beat his opponents. Speaking to TMZ Sports, Gaethje said that he expects a difficult fight on Saturday against Nurmagomedov against a highly-motivated opponent in Nurmagomedov.
“Well, I mean right now, this man is going to be very hard to beat,” Gaethje said. “With the passing of his father, you know, for people like us, that is a driving, motivating factor. He is going to be 100 percent motivated.”
Although Gaethje is gearing up for a tough test, he also warned Nurmagomedov that he would be making a mistake looking past him like he believes Tony Ferguson did.
“But I do believe like Tony believed that I can’t beat him. And that’s the last thing you want to think when you’re getting into a fight, especially with someone as dangerous as me. I have to hit him, I have to cause damage. He’s never had damaged caused. The way he talks about it, he doesn’t want damage caused. If he takes eight clean shots I truly believe he will understand he doesn’t want to take this damage, so therefore he doesn’t need to be here,” Gaethje said.
Who do you think wins, Justin Gaethje or Khabib Nurmagomedov?