Khabib Nurmagomedov’s  bitter rivalry with Conor McGregor is well documented, and he’s repeatedly shot down the idea the former champ should challenge for the title next. But, recently the lightweight champ was asked to weigh-in on how a bout between his rival and Justin Gaethje would go, and his answer might surprise you.
Nurmagomedov weighs-in on Gaethje vs. McGregor
Ever since McGregor was submitted by Khabib in 2018, he’s pushed for a rematch with the champ. But, Nurmagomedov has consistently argued that can’t happen, until McGregor defeats a top contender like Gaethje.
In addition, Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has said that McGregor needs to beat Gaethje before he fights Khabib again (and recently Gaethje had a pretty fiery warning for Dana White , if the UFC gives McGregor a title shot first).
Well, as this is being written, there’s no word of a Gaethje – McGregor bout being finalized. But, during a recent event for Khabib’s management team, Dominance MMA, he was asked to comment on Gaethje vs. McGregor. Here’s what the undefeated fighter had to say (quote via MMA Junkie ):
“Justin Gaethje and Conor, it’s a hard question,” Nurmagomedov said. “My opinion, I want Justin Gaethje, but I think (it’s) 50/50. I think you guys think (it’s) 50/50, too. Because it’s going to be stand-up fight, Justin is good, Conor is good on the standup, and I think it’s going to be 50/50.”
“Justin Gaethje is one of the best lightweights in the world, of course,” Nurmagomedov said. “Anyone in the top of the lightweight division is going to be hard. You have to believe this. You have to believe you can become champion one day. If not, why do you train? I respect his mind, I respect how he thinks, and I respect he want to show his skill, and he want to challenge himself. You have to.”
Thoughts on Khabib’s comments?
Now, the fact Khabib said Gaethje is one of the best lightweights in the world isn’t a surprise, as there’s no doubt the former WSOF champ is. But, it is kind of surprising to hear him say he thinks the fight’s “50/50” no?
Since Khabib has some serious issues with Conor, and because Gaethje has the same management team, one might think the champ could be biased in favor of the latter. But, apparently, that’s not the case.
It’s also interesting, as many other people have opined that Gaethje would be a bad match-up for Conor. Gaethje is an accomplished, former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, and he also has heavy hands and some of the nastiest, leg kicks in the game.
Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, is booked to fight Tony Ferguson on April 18th at UFC 249.