Some pieces have to fall into place before Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje  end up fighting. But, recently Gaethje described why, according to him, his wrestling will present a serious challenge for the galaxy class grappler.
Gaethje’s title shot run
After Gaethje was stopped by Dustin Poirier in April, 2018, which followed a loss to Eddie Alvarez in December, 2017, some people wrote “The Highlight” off as championship contender. Since then, however, Gaethje has taken out James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone, via first-round stoppages, and the former WSOF champ’s back in the title shot mix.
Gaethje’s take on how he matches up against Nurmagomedov
The expectation is that Nurmagomedov’s next title defense will be against Tony Ferguson, on account of the latter’s 12 fight winning streak. But, due to Gaethje’s recent run, as well as his NCAA Division 1 wrestling background, he continues to field questions about how he’d do against Khabib.
“No, it will not be the same,” Gaethje said. “Nothing will happen on the cage…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.”
“The thing about folkstyle wrestling, folkstyle wrestling doesn’t happen anywhere else other than the United States,” Gaethje said. “I only wrestle folkstyle. I very rarely wrestle freestyle. In folkstyle, I think the biggest factor is, you’re allowed to expose your back without giving up points, which means you scramble. So whenever he goes to take me down, I’m going to be flipping and rolling in ways that he’s never felt in his life. That’s folkstyle wrestling, being able to expose your back.
“What he’s done his whole life, these guys could never expose their backs to get out of a takedown because they were giving up points, and that’s the first thing you learn in freestyle is don’t expose your back. So you go straight to your stomach, and you give up a takedown. They also never have to get up. They just lay there for 15 seconds, then they stand them up automatically. In folkstyle wrestling, you get rewarded for getting up and escaping.”
It’s an interesting argument, and as noted above, Gaethje’s not the only person who has cited his wrestling background, as to why he could present a serious test for Nurmagomedov.
But, first things first, and Khabib has to get by the nasty striking, chokes and guard of Ferguson. It’s also not clear yet what’s next for Gaethje, who has repeatedly said he’d be more than willing to fight Conor McGregor.