Justin Gaethje says he wouldn't have accepted Khabib fight on short notice - MMA Junkie

Justin Gaethje says he wouldn't have accepted Khabib fight on short notice - MMA Junkie

By Farah Hannoun | May 4, 2020 10:15 am Justin Gaethje wasn’t going to step in on short notice for anyone, but then “The Highlight” changed his

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Justin Gaethje wasn’t going to step in on short notice for anyone, but then “The Highlight” changed his mind.

After UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced out of his UFC 249 fight vs. Tony Ferguson due to the travel ban restrictions in Russia, Gaethje offered to step in. Interestingly, he said stance would have been different if it was a fight against the undisputed champ.

“I don’t think I would have taken the fight against Khabib on short notice,” Gaethje told BT Sport.

Though the fight with Ferguson was pushed back a few weeks after the UFC pulled the plug on the April 18 card, Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) says training for a style matchup like Nurmagomedov on a few week’s notice, would have been far from ideal.

“Matchup-wise, I think I have a much better chance of touching Tony’s chin than Khabib’s, in the first two, three rounds,” Gaethje explained. “In order to get taken down once or twice by Khabib, and work up, and still be able to fight, I really do need at least 10 weeks. You know I’ve been training my whole life but there’s certain lactic acid that builds up that you really have to account for.

“No matter what, this is not perfect circumstances, but a fight is a fight. When it was on 14-day’s notice, that was much different than now, or 20-day’s notice. Now I’ve had five weeks to train, it’s not what I’ve asked for, or wanted, but I do believe that before this I was in better shape. … I didn’t let myself go. I was telling myself since the beginning of the year, I was gonna fight again and it was gonna be a big fight.”

Gaethje will get his first crack at UFC gold when he faces Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. The winner is projected to unify the belts with champion Nurmagomedov sometime in the fall.

UFC 249 takes place May 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The main card streams on pay-per-view after prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.

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