On official scorecards, Justin Gaethje won the first round of the fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov according to two out of three judges. Both men pushed the pace and respected each other. Gaethje was able to land hard leg kicks and stay alert during the fight. However, Khabib was able to walk through power shots, eventually grab Justin, and submit him in the second round. Usually, Khabib dominates his opponents with a vicious ground and pound. However, Khabib was conscious of the submission finish against Justin, and pre-determined the finish due to a reason he revealed later.
DC Speaks on Khabib Submission Choice
Daniel Cormier is Khabib’s best friend in the sport. On the DC & Helwani show, Cormier revealed a conversation that he had with Nurmagomedov previous to UFC 254. Then, he explained why Khabib went for submissions instead of his usual mauling ground and pound.
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“He (Khabib) told me when he was watching the interviews over the course of the week, he saw that Justin said he would never tap. Justin would never tap,” said Cormier.
“So when he was going to the submission, he said it was his dad’s favorite position, into the mounted position going into the armbar, going into the triangle, he said it was his father’s favorite submission. So when he got there, he was going to do the armbar. But he had heard Justin say all week that he would never tap and he didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents. So he went to the triangle and just kind of put him to sleep,” Cormier said of Nurmagomedov.
“I promise you. He actually told me that. Where he goes, ‘I didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents, so I said I’m going to put him in the triangle. If he goes to sleep, he goes to sleep, you wake up, you’re fine.’ That’s exactly what he told me. He didn’t want to hurt Justin in front of his parents.”
Moving the Division
Now that the UFC lightweight title is vacant, it would be tough not to consider Gaethje to fight for the belt. All he’ll need is a partner to share the octagon with. The UFC has many different directions they could turn. Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler, and Dustin Poirier are all waiting for a shot at the belt.
With Khabib officially retired, the division is now wide open.