UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov said he was not only the better fighter in his UFC 254 fight with Justin Gaethje, he was also the smarter fighter.
Speaking to RT Sport ahead of his easy title fight on October 24th on UFC Fight Island, Khabib said he respected Gaethje’s fighting ability and heart, but the Russian world champion said he had a key advantage in the matchup – his fight IQ.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a chess game, you know,” he said.
“I think my fighting IQ is way better than Justin Gaethje. He’s just a tough guy. He likes to fight, he likes blood. He’s like a real warrior. But when we talk about fighting IQ, I think that my combat IQ is way better than him. “
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Khabib also paid tribute to Gaethje’s longtime coach, Trevor Wittman, who described the coach as a “great coach” and how he led Gaethje through his last fight against former interim champion Tony Ferguson.
“I think Justin has a very good coach, a great coach. If you see his last fight when he was fighting Tony Ferguson, how he cornered him, he gave him very good advice. I think he did has a very good and very great trainer.
“Of course Justin can fight. He can go deep and he has heart, but when you talk about fighting IQ I think I’m a lot better than him.”
As for the fight itself, Khabib said his approach had no secret as he set up his game plan to smash Gaethje before finishing it in the middle to late rounds.
“I’ll try to wrestle with him. If he wants to defend my takedown once, I’ll try a second, third. I’ll try 100 times. And of course I’ll box with.” him, I’ll kick him.
“He’s going to play kickboxing and wrestling, a mix. I’ll make him tired. This is my goal. And maybe in Round 3, Round 4 my plan is to finish him.”
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