Attempting to unify his lightweight title on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi at UFC 254 opposite interim best, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje – Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov has predicted he’ll score his third consecutive submission win over a “tired” Gaethje to remain unbeaten.
Khabib, who attempts to move to a whopping 29-0 as a professional. most recently submitted former interim champion, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier at UFC 242 in September of last year on Yas Island with a third-round rear-naked choke, following an October 2018 neck crank win over ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor in a UFC 229 grudge match.
Tasked with overcoming his consensus toughest challenge in the Octagon to date, Khabib – who makes the walk under the UFC lights for the first time since the recent passing of his father and decorated Sambo coach, Abdulmanap, has predicted he’ll score a finish over Gaethje before the allotted twenty-five minute period has elapsed – a submission win, in fact, which would see him become the first to finish the Arizonian via that method.
“”I feel I’m going to make him tired and I’m going to finish this guy (Justin Gaethje),” Khabib explained to First Take on ESPN. “This is my opinion. But I’m ready for all rounds. All five-round war. But my goal on this fight, make him tired and choke him out.” (H/T MMA Fighting)
Gaethje, an accomplished collegiate amateur wrestler himself, has yet to utilise his often superior wrestling in his seven-fight Octagon stint so far, but against Khabib – he’ll undoubtedly face the sternest grappling orientated opposition to date.
In his sole professional defeats, Gaethje eventually succumbed to strikes and punishment against the above mentioned Poirier, and former lightweight titleholder, Eddie Alvarez, respectively – scoring knockout wins of his own opposite the likes of Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Tony Ferguson in May.
For Khabib – the Dagestani grappling maestro has scored ten victories via submission throughout his twelve-year career, only recently displaying his offensive submission acumen opposite common-foe, Johnson, whom he finished with a taught kimura, as well as his above-mentioned choke wins over McGregor and Poirier.