After Justin Gaethje beat Donald Cerrone he called for the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson — assuming that fight happens next.
Many think Gaethje could pose the biggest threat to the undefeated Dagestani lightweight champion. He has knockout power and comes from a Division-I wrestling background where he was an All-American. So, “The Highlight” is confident he will be able to keep the fight on the feet and force Nurmagomedov to stand and trade with him.
“No, it will not be the same,” Justin Gaethje said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “Nothing will happen on the cage. We will fight in the center of the Octagon. As much as he’s going to want to fight on the edge of the Octagon, we’re going to fight in the center. I’m going to throw massive shots, most of them are going to come right through the middle, and I’m going to take chances, throw knees, and if he takes me down that’s fine.”
Justin Gaethje is on a three-fight winning streak with all three first-round finishes. He is certain that his wrestling defense would keep the fight on the feet. But, if Nurmagomedov gets a takedown, he is confident he will get up. So, he believes he will be the person to hand the Dagestani champ his first pro loss.
“If one man can hold you down, then two can do whatever they want to you,” Gaethje said. “You cannot hold me down. I will get up, and I will scramble in a different way than he’s ever known. I think I have more power than anybody ever has consistently had in the lightweight division.”
How Justin Gaethje will keep the fight on the feet is simple. He says in order to stop Khabib Nurmagomedov’s pressure, he must match it and knows exactly how to defend the takedowns.
“The only way to stop a takedown is to meet force with force,” Gaethje said. “You don’t try to sprawl away. Whenever you do a sprawl, you don’t throw your hips away; you drive your hips into the mat. That’s how you stop a takedown, so I’ve wrestled my whole life and hit so hard. I guarantee he’s going to be in trouble. Dustin [Poirier] had him in trouble, and Dustin was on the fence the whole time.”
Do you think Justin Gaethje could be the one to defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/27/2019.