Gaethje Is A Serious Threat To That Crown

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje is going to be a lot bigger of a fight that most people realize. It’s hard to understand at present just because the fight was just announced, and it’s still a few months away. But I can tell you right now, by the time October rolls around and fight week begins, fans of this sport are going to be giddy with anticipation for UFC 254.

Much thanks to the newfound high profile of the UFC Lightweight champion, who has earned immense fanfare from his last couple of wins. Especially the Conor McGregor Saga, as ugly as that got, it was that very fight that propelled him into a different stratosphere of fame and admiration throughout the world. Dominating Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi last year just furthered Khabib as a star, and he now finds himself being a really big name in the sport that commands a lot of attention when he competes.

A byproduct of being a fighter that gets a lot of attention means the opponent is going to get a lot of attention just by association. And there is no fighter more deserving than getting that type of attention that the interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje.

In light of the recent passing of Khabibs father, much is being made about the future of Khabib, as well as his plans to finish up his career. In an interview with ESPN, UFC President Dana White has said that if Khabib wanted to finish up his career with a fight against Georges St Pierre, that he would consider giving the lightweight champion his wish.

Khabib vs GSP is a nice thought, and fun to talk about, but don’t let it overshadow Khabib vs Gaethje. The last time a lot of the fanbase overlooked Gaethje, we watched him put down a serious drubbing on Tony Ferguson and take that spotlight away from Ferg.

It feels so long ago now and people forget, in the lead up in the Ferguson and Gaethje, essentially the entire narrative of the fight surrounding Tony Ferguson and his story. A lot of people overlooked Gaethje that time around, and although the fight with Khabib just got booked and is a few months away, I’m getting the impression that people are overlooking him again. Which we should all know by now is a big-time mistake.

I wouldn’t be so quick to start making the odds for GSP vs Khabib, it’s perfectly conceivable that come October 24th, we have a new undisputed lightweight champion, so people ought to slow their roll on booking the Khabibs swan song. Because as anyone that’s been paying close attention knows, Gaethje is a serious threat to that crown. And a fight vs Khabib is in going to be a lot more competitive than most are expecting.

Even though Gaethje is an NCAA Division one All American wrestler, he is still considered to be at a major disadvantage in the grappling department against Khabib, everybody is. But how the hell would we even know anyway? I’ve been watching him since his WSOF days and I swear to god I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do one takedown attempt, he isn’t often put on the defensive grappling wise either, so its a part of his game that is a mystery.

But one thing about his game that certainly is no mystery is his intentions. And that is to walk forward directly into the pocket of his opponent and try to knock his opponent’s head clean off of their shoulders. And more often than not, he succeeds in doing so. As dominant as Khabib is, all of that dominance is based purely on his grappling ability, it certainly isn’t because of his striking.

No disrespect to the champion, but if we were talking about a kickboxing or Boxing fight against Gaethje, the result of that fight is a foregone conclusion. But of course, this isn’t boxing or Kickboxing. It’s MMA, and Khabib is probably is one of the most dominant lightweights we’ve ever seen.

But I can tell you one thing I certainly won’t be doing is trying to think or talk much about this fight anytime soon, it’s just too far away, and you have to always be prepared for the biggest and most anticipated fights of the year to fall apart due to injury or for some reason or another. So don’t bother talking to me about this fight until the leaves at east start changing color.

But at least for now, one thing I will say is that it’s awesome to see that the hierarchy of champions and contenders is starting to be respected a little more than we’ve seen over the years. I understand the logic behind making the biggest fights with the biggest names you can and entertainment value is a top priority. But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be about the absolute best fighting the best, regardless of popularity or marketability. Who is the best fighter, that’s what this whole thing was built on.

What we have with Khabib Nurmadomedov vs Justin Gaethje is just that, two of the very best fighters in the most talent-rich division in this sport has to offer, facing off for the Championship title. In this day in age with all of the phony personas and the pro wrestling antics being shoved down our throats, its a breath of fresh air to see that the big stage in October is headlined by two fighters who have reached these heights from sheer talent, heart, and dedication to the sport.

Khabib vs Gaethje is going to be a lot bigger of a fight than a lot of us realize, don’t be distracted by this Khabib vs GSP talk. But if you are, don’t act all surprised when Gaethje shows up at 254 and steals the show yet again.

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