Surging Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight smashing machine, Justin Gaethje, is back on the championship radar after trashing No. 6-ranked Edson Barboza at the UFC Philadelphia mixed martial arts (MMA) event last weekend on ESPN.
Relive the carnage here.
Gaethje improves to 20-2 with the victory and now has 18 finishes, 17 of them by way of knockout. Ordinarily, that would be enough to have the reigning division champion looking over his shoulder, but there is nothing ordinary about Khabib Nurmagomedov.
So what kind of chance would “The Highlight” have in a title fight against “The Eagle?”
“Not much, because he ain’t going to be able to stop the takedown,” coach Javier Mendez told The MMA Hour. “None of those guys can. [Nurmagomedov will] take them all down, and if they don’t have much of a ground game, they’re done. The only way it becomes interesting is if Khabib decides to do things. Look back on all his fights, it’s only when he decides to stand with people that it becomes a little bit trickier.”
I hate it when those martial arts get mixed!
It should be noted that Gaethje, despite a penchant for stand-up cage violence, was a two-time Arizona state champion wrestler before becoming an NCAA Division I All-American out of the University of Northern Colorado.
Then again, Abel Trujillo was also a state champion in high school, as well as a four-time NAIA All-American, and he got taken down a staggering 21 times during their three-round affair back in 2013. “The Eagle” is 49 for 116 (45%) in takedowns under the UFC banner.
It only takes one punch (or kick) to end the fight and Nurmagomedov (27-0) has been known to go rogue, banging it out with Al Iaquinta for five rounds at UFC 223. In addition, he popped a dropped Conor McGregor in their UFC 229 title fight.
So, is the champion simply too much for a fighter like Gaethje?