Former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez doesn’t believe Justin Gaethje has the style necessary to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Alvarez, who is now with ONE Championship, faced off against Gaethje back in December 2017 and secured a knockout win against “The Highlight”. Gaethje has gone on to string four impressive KO and TKO wins together after another defeat against Dustin Poirier, with his victory over Tony Ferguson in May handing him the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship.
He’ll be going after the undisputed title when he takes on Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 but during a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Alvarez noted that he isn’t convinced Gaethje can get the job done.
“The style matchup I think – whenever I look at a big fight like that, the first thing I ask myself is kind of where I feel like the fight is going to take place,” Alvarez said. “The majority of the fight, where is it going to happen, and I just see Khabib taking him down. We’ve got to assume it’s going to be on the ground, and I just don’t feel like Justin has the experience jiu-jitsu-wise to be able to deal with what Khabib is going to be able to bring on the ground.”
“I think it takes some time, like a lot of strategy to fight a guy like Khabib, and I think Justin’s style is tailor made for Khabib,” Alvarez added. “Justin is a come-forward fighter, and I think against a guy like Khabib, you need to be really lateral. You need to move a lot so he can’t get square and then get his shots in on you and Justin’s kinda there. He’s right in front of you and even his mind coming into the fight when I hear the media, ‘I’ve just got to create a car accident,’ I don’t know if that’s the right mindset against Khabib.
“I know he wants to hurt him, and you want to do that, but it should be more of a ‘tag, you’re it,’ game against Khabib and making sure you’re keeping lateral and then ‘tags, you’re it,’ one-twos down the middle and then move again, and that’s how I would like the first round or two played against a guy like Khabib in order to stop that takedown and stop that dominant grappling he has,” Alvarez continued.
Gaethje himself is far more confident after stating that he’s interested in seeing how Khabib reacts when he starts bleeding.
“I know I’m going to see his blood. I want him to see his blood and I want to see his reaction. He isn’t as crazy as me, that’s the thing,” Gaethje told ESPN. “I think he is crazy and loves competition but he isn’t quite as crazy as me. He also hasn’t seen his blood many times, I’m sure. His style of fighting is not something where you are looking for blood. I bet that doesn’t even cross his mind that he will see his own blood. That has never been a factor for him.”
What do you think of this breakdown from Eddie Alvarez?