Justin Gaethje, with his 31 years of age and 22-2 MMA record, can at this point be considered a veteran fighter within the sport. Throughout his career he has always been a Lightweight fighter, weighing in at about 70 kg. He is 180 cm tall and has a wingspan of 178 cm. Gaethje joined the UFC in 2017 after a lengthy career in the World Series of Fighting; in which he held the Lightweight title. While a rocky start in the UFC, suffering back to back losses after his initial win against Michael Johnson, he has come back in an impressive fashion; having his comeback capped off by winning the UFC Interim Lightweight Title after beating Tony Ferguson.
Gaethje was a Division 1 NCAA wrestler for the University of Northern Colorado, but is more so known for his impressive aggressive stand-up fighting. With 7.74 significant strikes landed per minute and a 59% significant striking accuracy, Gaethjes striking can very easily endanger his opponent. So far in his UFC career, every single fight he has won has come via KO/TKO, and in his last four, every knockout has come from a punch.
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Khabib Nurmagomedov, also known simply as ‘The Eagle’, has long been on top of the lightweight division. Currently sitting at 28-0 along with the UFC Lightweight title, he is considered the second best pound for pound fighter in the UFC, ranked only behind Jon Jones. Just as Justin Gaethje, Khabib has primarily fought in the Lightweight division, which is why he sits at around 70 kg body weight. He is 178 cm tall and has a wingspan of 178 cm.
What makes Khabib Nurmagomedov special is ofcourse his grappling. With a black belt in Judo and a couple of world championships in Combat Sambo, he is someone that you do not want to mess with in the ground game. With a 47% Takedown Accuracy and 5.35 Takedowns landed per 15 minutes, combined with an 84% Takedown Defense, beating him on the ground is something that simply has not been done yet. His striking, while worse, is still fairly decent. Khabib has on average landed 4.11 strikes per minute with an accuracy of 49%.
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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje Fight Predictions
Without a doubt Khabib Nurmagomedov will be the favorite going into this fight. When you are undefeated and ranked 2nd in the pound for pound rankings, you can not expect anything else. But seeing as Khabib is so heavily favored it does provide for some interesting betting opportunities. Justin Gaethje has a long history of excellent striking, but people tend to forget that he also possesses expert wrestling skills. While he does not use his wrestling on the ground, it has provided him with an extremely good takedown defense, averaging 80% over his UFC career. While Khabib is excellent on the ground, perhaps even the best of all time in MMA, he does have to be able to get Gaethje to the ground. If Gaethje manages to stand-up throughout most of the fight, he has a great chance to do some serious damage to Khabib, potentially resulting in a knockout.
Striking StatsKhabib | Justin
4.11 Strikes Landed/min. | 7.74 Strikes Landed/min.
49% Striking Accuracy | 59% Striking Accuracy 1.65 Strikes Absorbed/min. | 8.37 Strikes Absorbed/min. 67% Striking Defense | 54% Striking Defense
But, with Khabibs excellent ground and pound game, along with his 67% striking defence, it seems very unlikely that Gaethje can win solely through his striking. Gaethje has not gone to decision in the UFC yet, and while he did seem more composed in parts of the fight against Tony Ferguson, Khabibs cardio will take a toll on Gaethje. Justin Gaethje likes to go for the big knockout punches, something that simply is not going to work with Khabib..
Grappling StatsKhabib | Justin
5.35 Takedowns Avg./15 min. | 0.00 Takedowns Avg./15 min.
47% Takedown Accuracy | 0% Takedown Accuracy 84% Takedown Defense | 80% Takedown Defense0.7 Submission Avg./15 min | 0.0 Submission Avg./15 min
Justin Gaethje has a real opportunity in this bout, seeing as his strengths match up well against Khabib Nurmagomedov. But, with that being said, Khabib has far superior cardio, far superior grappling, and will tire Justin Gaethje out over the span of the 5 rounds. Gaethje has the ability with his wrestling background to withstand a submission attempt, and his striking ability will prevent him from getting knocked out by Khabib. Therefore look for the fight to go the distance, with Khabib winning the decision.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov (1.36) via unanimous decision.
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