Gaethje Needs More Time To Prepare For Nurmagomedov
Justin Gaethje will be taking his first short-notice fight in the UFC when he faces Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title in the UFC 249 headliner on Saturday.
Gaethje has long voiced his opinion against taking short-notice fights, having even declined one with Ferguson last year. What makes things different this time around is the rare chance to win UFC gold and seal a date with Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.
That said, “The Highlight” wouldn’t do the same if it came to facing Nurmagomedov on short notice. Even if it meant fighting for the undisputed title.
“I don’t think I would have taken the fight against Khabib on short notice,” Gaethje told BT Sport. “Match-up wise I think I have a much better chance of touching Tony’s chin than Khabib’s in the first two, three rounds.”
It’s not that Gaethje needs more time to prepare for Nurmagomedov when it comes to conditioning. After all, his conditioning will be put to the test against Ferguson as well, even more so perhaps.
But for Gaethje, “The Eagle” is a different story given the threat of his wrestling and grappling ability.
“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,” Gaethje added. “I’ve been training my whole life but there’s certain lactic acid that builds up that you really have to account for that, so I’d be foolish.”
If Gaethje is indeed able to defeat Ferguson this weekend, he will have all the time in the world to solely train for Nurmagomedov.