Justin Gaethje is looking to put Khabib Nurmagomedov in uncharted waters.
Interim lightweight champion Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) will attempt to unify the belts with champion Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 254, which takes place on Oct. 24 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) has run through everyone put in front of him to date with relative ease, but Gaethje vows to drag him into deep waters. He thinks the undefeated champion hasn’t been battle tested yet.
“I know I’m going to see his blood,” Gaethje told ESPN. “So I want him to see his blood, and I want to see his reaction.”
“I know I’m gonna see [Khabib’s] blood.”@Justin_Gaethje wants to see how Nurmagomedov reacts when things get bloody (via @bokamotoESPN) pic.twitter.com/6m5QqNlyjH
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 22, 2020
Gaethje has been in his fair share of bloody wars throughout his career. It has ended up costing him on numerous occasions, but after taming his style in recent times, “The Highlight” has stopped his past four opponents in a row.
His most recent performance against Tony Ferguson in May was his most refined to date, where he was able to batter the ever-so-durable Ferguson for nearly five full rounds, until the referee decided he had seen enough.
And Gaethje doesn’t think Nurmagomedov will react well to that kind of damage, which he believes is unfamiliar territory for the champion.
“I don’t think he’s as crazy as me, that’s the thing,” Gaethje said. “I think he’s crazy and he loves competition, but I don’t think he’s quite as crazy as me and he hasn’t seen his blood very many times I’m sure. His style of fighting is not something where you are looking for blood or anything like that. It’s never even – I bet that doesn’t even cross his mind, whether he’s going to see his own blood or not see his own blood. That’s never been a factor for him.”
He continued, “I don’t think he’s as crazy as me, and I’m not sure what it’ll be, but I’m pretty sure he’s gonna freak out a little bit.”