Michael Chandler Assesses Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
If both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje make it to fight night, don’t expect Michael Chandler to bet the house on “The Highlight.”
Nurmagomedov is the UFC Lightweight Champion, while Gaethje holds the interim gold. Something has got to give, so the two have been booked in a title unification bout. It’s set to headline UFC 254 on October 24.
Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Chandler said that while Gaethje could be the most credible threat to Khabib’s undefeated record yet, he still isn’t about to bet the farm on “The Highlight” (via MMAJunkie.com).
“I think Justin Gaethje looked like the best lightweight in the world in May when he fought Tony Ferguson. That version of Justin Gaethje, who stepped into that cage calm and composed and confident, smart and sharp, fighting with the tenacity that he normally brings to the cage, but not the overzealous, overanxious Justin Gaethje ‘I wanna rip your head off’ fighter that we’re used to seeing – that was the best version of Justin Gaethje that we’ve ever seen.
“Now, you take into consideration that Justin Gaethje was a Division-I wrestler, you take into consideration that we haven’t seen his wrestling, but know he’s got great athleticism, great hips, great instincts inside the cage – I think he poses the best threat that we’ve seen thus far against a guy like Khabib. But I still think you’re crazy if you do bet against Khabib.”
Nurmagomedov has a perfect pro MMA record of 28-0. He’s beaten the likes of Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Rafael dos Anjos, and Al Iaquinta to name a few. Gaethje is riding a four-fight winning streak. In that span, he’s finished Tony Ferguson, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick.
Chandler recently signed with the UFC after being with Bellator since September 2010. Chandler will be on standby for the main event of UFC 254 in case he’s needed to serve as a replacement.