UFC 249: Justin Gaethje Outlines Why He’d Probably Pass on Short Notice Fight With Khabib Nurmagomedov

Justin Gaethje agreed to throw hands with Tony Ferguson on very short notice last month. But, recently the lightweight contender explained why he probably wouldn't do the same for a scrap with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Justin Gaethje broke his own rule last month by agreeing to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on short notice.

So would Gaethje do the same for a fight with the reigning lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagmomedov? It looks like the answer’s no.

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Gaethje explains why he’d likely pass on short notice bout with Nurmagomedov

Originally, Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Ferguson at UFC 249, when the card was still set for April 18th. But, due to coronavirus travel ban, Khabib was stranded in Russia and the UFC called up Gaethje.

Although Gaethje has said in the past that he won’t accept short notice fights, the former WSOF champ decided that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Ultimately, however, the card was postponed and now Gaethje will face Ferguson for the interim title this Saturday, May 9th,

So, would Gaethje have done the same for a fight with Khabib? While talking to BT Sport recently, Gaethje had this to say regarding that question (quotes via MMA Junkie).

“I don’t think I would have taken the fight against Khabib on short notice.”

“Matchup-wise, I think I have a much better chance of touching Tony’s chin than Khabib’s, in the first two, three rounds,” Gaethje explained.

“In order to get taken down once or twice by Khabib, and work up, and still be able to fight, I really do need at least 10 weeks.

You know I’ve been training my whole life but there’s certain lactic acid that builds up that you really have to account for.

“No matter what, this is not perfect circumstances, but a fight is a fight. When it was on 14-day’s notice, that was much different than now, or 20-day’s notice.

Now I’ve had five weeks to train, it’s not what I’ve asked for, or wanted, but I do believe that before this I was in better shape. …

I didn’t let myself go. I was telling myself since the beginning of the year, I was gonna fight again and it was gonna be a big fight.”

Makes sense?

You have to kind of wonder if circumstances had been different, and Gaethje was asked to face Khabib last month if maybe he would have accepted. After all, as is the case with the Ferguson fight, it would have been a massive opportunity for him. 

But, that aside, from a tactical perspective, what he outlined above makes sense. You don’t want to face one of the best wrestlers the game has ever seen with a reduced gas tank. No question.

Can Gaethje snap Ferguson’s 12 fight winning streak this Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida? And lock-up a fight with Khabib for later this year?

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