UFC: Khabib plans on taking Justin Gaethje to “The deepest ocean and drown him”

There might not be a fighter more terrifying in the UFC than the lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmogomedov (28-0). When it comes to game plans, the Dagestan native makes it very clear what he plans on doing.

UFC commentator Joe Rogan posted a video on Instagram of interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2) training, and Nurmagomedov voiced his opinion about what will happen in a couple of months at UFC 254.

UFC 254 can’t come soon enough

The UFC has never seen a fighter like Nurmogomedov. He’s so dominant to the point that he doesn’t even appear to be human. He pushes forward and every opponent he’s faced has been taken down.

AKA teammate and former UFC heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, talked about how strong Nurmogomedov is yesterday on his show with Ariel Helwani. Cormier talked about how it was hard for even him to get up when Khabib had him down.

“I’m a heavyweight, I should not feel like ‘This dude’s strong’ when a 55 pounder grabs me. I was on the bottom with him and I had to actually try to get up. I can only imagine what it’s like when a 55 pounder is under him,” Cormier said to Helwani.

The UFC interim lightweight champion, Gaethje, might be the best wrestler that Khabib has fought so far. Most (including myself) don’t feel that Gaethje will be able to keep Nurmagomedov off of him.

I think that even Gaethje knows at some point he will probably be taken down. The game plan for Gaethje has to be to keep it standing long enough to hurt/finish the UFC lightweight champion.

This fight is so fascinating and UFC 254 can’t come soon enough. Justin Gaethje presents the most dangerous challenge in the lightweight division for Nurmogomedov.

If Khabib can’t get through Gaethje, he will cement himself as the greatest lightweight to ever live. Then, if he gets his dream matchup with GSP following that win, he could cement himself as the greatest fighter of all time.

UFC: Tony Ferguson – Dustin Poirier is the fight to make

Tony Ferguson, UFC

There is no division in the UFC that is as talent heavy at the top as the lightweight division. The top five guys in the division all rank within the top fifteen in the promotions pound-for-pound rankings.

Two of the guys at the very top are former interim UFC champions, Tony Ferguson (25-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

Ferguson is coming off of a loss to Justin Gaethje for the interim title back at UFC 249 in May. Prior to that loss, Ferguson had a 12 fight winning streak that dated back to 2013.

Since the loss where Ferguson took a lot of damage, many were wondering what would be next for Ferguson. Ferguson laid out what he thinks the plan should be moving forward to ESPN.

Battle of two of the UFC’s best

I love what Ferguson is thinking, but realistically, I only see one of these being an option for his next UFC fight. I think the only fight that Conor McGregor will take next is a fight for the title.

With that being said, it leaves The Diamond. Poirier is coming off of an insane victory in a war with Dan Hooker back in June. Poirier is 6-1, 1 NC in his last eight fights. He holds a victory over current interim champion, Justin Gaethje.

These top UFC lightweights would make for a perfect matchup. If they were to fight, the winner would make a very clear number one contender for the winner of Khabib – Gaethje.

Of course, there are a few hurdles in the way of that. The hurdles being Conor McGregor and Georges St. Pierre. The UFC lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov, wants to supposedly retire 30-0 meaning he’d only fight two more times.

If Khabib defeats Gaethje, he said that he wants to fight GSP next year in his final fight. This is a fight the UFC is open to. The promotion will also likely try to push for a McGregor rematch given the magnitude of that fight.

Those hurdles will create a massive headache and problem for Ferguson and Poirier. These two men would be the most deserving of a shot at the title, but will likely be in limbo if Nurmagomedov wins in October.

Regardless, this is the fight that the UFC needs to put together. It makes sense from a rankings perspective, and I mean who wouldn’t want to see these two throw down?

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov – Justin Gaethje official for October 24th

UFC president Dana White announced some pretty big news today. It was announced and confirmed that Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) with defend his title against interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2), on October 24th.

White confirmed the news to CNN. There have been a lot of questions about the future for Khabib after his father passed away. Many wondered if he would even fight again. But the fight is on.

“It’s going to happen, I can tell you right here right now,” White said. “That fight’s going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje on October 24.”

Two more UFC fights for Khabib

Recently, it was announced by his manager that Khabib only has a couple of fights left in his UFC career. The first being his title defense against Gaethje.

Nurmagomedov is one of the sports biggest stars. He’s 28-0 and he’s one of the highest paid fighters in the promotion. However, he’s always talked about walking away early from the sport.

Dana White was asked by ESPN what he’d want to do if Nurmagomedov were to only fight two times. He said he would for sure fight Gaethje, but there was an interesting option for his retirement fight.

Justin Gaethje presents the biggest challenge to Khabib from a stylistic standpoint. However, if Khabib can get passed Gaethje, fight fans might get a fight they’ve dreamed about.

Many have wanted to see Georges St. Pierre drop down to 155 to challenge Khabib for the UFC title. White has always dismissed that because GSP would only want to fight once. But, if Khabib is also going to be walking away, the fight could happen.

Exciting times for the UFC‘s lightweight division. Khabib – Gaethje is a matchup that’s so interesting and exciting to think about because there are so many unknowns. Khabib hasn’t fought anyone with as good of defensive wrestling as Gaethje. Should be a fun fight with big implications that will follow.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Have Pick Of Final Opponent

It appears that, according to his manager, Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to shoot for a record of 30-0 before retiring altogether. Manager Ali Abdelaziz told the news to UFC Arabia, but the final opponent for Nurmagomedov – assuming that he beats Justin Gaethje to advance to a record of 29-0 – is still an unknown.

The fight with Gaethje is set to unify the lightweight belt and determine the true champion, whether that’s the underdog Gaethje or the favorite, Khabib. However, it appears from the outside that the death of his father has impacted his motivation to defend the belt in the future even if he does unify it when the Gaethje fight finally happens.

Khabib will likely go for the 30-0 mark

Instead of aiming to defend the belt for as long as possible, Khabib’s plan is to take one more fight and achieve an undefeated 30-0 record before retirement. According to ESPN, that’s something that UFC boss Dana White is willing to accommodate.

On Monday, White told ESPN that he would support Nurmagomedov’s choice of a final opponent, including former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

White mentioned that one of the possible fights to make is the rematch against Conor McGregor, who pushed for the fight ever since the first match between the two happened. McGregor, however, is retired right now. At least allegedly.

Would a second fight with Khabib be enough to lure McGregor back into the sport? It’s possible, and many would say that it’s likely, but McGregor has a track record of not behaving how experts and fans expect.

We also don’t know yet if Khabib himself is after the rematch. Another fight mentioned by White is one between Khabib and Georges St-Pierre, who has been away from the sport for longer than McGregor has. However, St-Pierre was recently called out by Kamaru Usman, and responded by quickly denying talks about a return.

“I need to stay objective and smart about my decisions, and right now, to come back to fight for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman and risk it all, there’s more cons than pros. It’s not worth it for me,” St-Pierre said on the matter.

White also said that he’s willing to do anything Khabib wants, when it comes to the matchmaking for his final fight.

Of course, all of this talk about a 30-0 record depends on Khabib winning one more fight against Justin Gaethje in September, and that’s no given. Especially with recent rough events in Khabib’s life, which have potentially played a role in his decision to retire early in the first place.

Once the title unification fight happens, things will truly get interesting for lightweight matchmaking.

UFC: Justin Gaethje turns down Conor McGregor fight

Right now, the UFC‘s lightweight division is in a bit of a holding pattern. In September, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) was supposed to fight interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2).

However, after the recent passing of Nurmagomedov’s father, there have been question marks around the eagle’s future. As a result, the division has come to a halt.

With the uncertainty around his future, Khabib suggested that Gaethje fight Conor McGregor (22-4) while he figures his situation out. According to Gaethje’s manager, that was not an offer he was interested in.

“Khabib told me to tell Justin to go fight Conor. Justin said no,” Ali Abdelaziz said to TMZ Sports.

What’s next in the UFC’s lightweight division

A fight between McGregor and Gaethje for the interim UFC lightweight title would be massive. It’s a fight that has a ton of heat because the two men do not like each other.

Of course, McGregor has seemed to be enjoying retirement life as of now. Dana White and pretty much everyone in the world does not believe that McGregor is actually retired.

I’m a little surprised Gaethje was so quick to dismiss the opportunity to fight McGregor. However, at the same time it does make since if you’re Gaethje.

The interim UFC lightweight champion would have a tougher time dealing with McGregor due to the style. A McGregor-Gaethje matchup would happen completely on the feet.

If both men were at their peak, I don’t think many would favor Gaethje over McGregor in a stand up fight. Whereas Khabib will try to take Gaethje down over and over. If Gaethje could keep that fight standing, he’d have a massive advantage.

Despite the tougher matchup, I don’t think Gaethje is dodging McGregor. I think he just envisions becoming the undisputed UFC lightweight champion. A dangerous fight with McGregor could take that opportunity away in the blink of an eye.

 

UFC: Major title fights will be coming back to Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

The UFC will be leaving Fight Island to return to the United States this week after a very successful first run in Abu Dhabi.

In speaking with The National, White detailed some of the bigger fights that he has in mind for the UFC‘s return to Abu Dhabi.

“Khabib will be the next…we’re talking about Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, that fight is happening. Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is a possibility. All the massive, big fights with literally the champion vs. the No. 1 contender are all looking like Fight Island.”

UFC’s Fall Return

The UFC‘s fall return to Fight Island is going to be massive. I would expect that the first fight we will see booked is the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya (19-0) and Paulo Costa (13-0).

The two undefeated fighters have a ton of heat between the two of them. Over the weekend, the fight was prematurely announced for September. However, Dana White said the fight is not official.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) will be making his return at some point against Justin Gaethje (22-2). The two men will unify the UFC‘s lightweight championship on Fight Island.

Zhang and Namajunas is another massive fight that will happen on Fight Island. There could also be additional title fights that will still be announced in the months to come for Fight Island in the fall.

The UFC will likely have to make most of their big fights on Fight Island with the way that the pandemic is going. The United States is a fluid country with the virus. As a result, I think the UFC might be setting up shop on Fight Island for most of 2020.

ESM’s Men’s UFC Pound-for-Pound rankings ahead of Saturday Night

One of the things that never seems to make sense to the world is the UFC rankings. If you go over to the UFC’s official rankings page, the pound for pound rankings make you scratch your head. At ESM, we have decided to throw our hat into the ring to create our own rankings that we will keep updated following every major UFC/MMA event.

Men’s Pound-For-Pound Rankings

  1. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC)
  2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0)
  3. Israel Adesanya (19-0)
  4. Kamaru Usman (16-1)
  5. Stipe Miocic (19-3)
  6. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)
  7. Alexander Volkanovski (21-1)
  8. Justin Gaethje (22-2)
  9. Conor McGregor (22-4)
  10. Francis Ngannou (15-3)

To me, Jon Jones is still the best to ever do it inside the octagon. In reality, the man is 28-0 just like Nurmagomedov but due to an elbow rule and a picogram, he’s got two blemishes on his record. Still when “Bones” is on his game, he’s the best in the world possessing elite skills in all aspects of MMA.

In comparison to the UFC‘s official rankings you’ll notice some differences. I personally left Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway outside of the top ten. Holloway is 1-2 in his last three fights which hurts his case. Poirier was a tough call, but I went with Gaethje and McGregor from that division. I think if Poirier were to rematch both men especially the new and improved Justin Gaethje, it could be a long night for him.

Francis Ngannou is the one who needs to be ranked higher in the UFC‘s rankings. The Predator is currently ranked 14th, but he belongs in the top ten. The most prolific knockout artist in UFC history is on a Mike Tyson like tear right now. His last four fights have gone a combined 2:42 against top heavyweight competition.

UFC 251’s Potential Impact

There are a couple of fights that will have an impact on the P4P UFC rankings this Saturday. The main event of the evening features Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). Masvidal has won three fights in a row, but if he’s able to defeat Usman, he will finally launch into the top ten pound for pound rankings. Usman will likely hold in the fourth spot with a win on Saturday night.

Alexander Volkanovski can jump in the rankings even more if he’s able to defeat Holloway for a second time. The Australian has won 18 fights in a row including all eight of his UFC fights. If he’s able to retain his title on Saturday night and do it impressively, you could make the argument that he belongs in the top five.

Holloway could get back into the top ten if he’s able to regain his title. 2019 was not a great year for the former champion losing two fights. However, the Blessed Era can make an emphatic return if he’s able to dethrone Vokanovski on Saturday night. Fight Island definitely has the potential to shake up our UFC men’s pound for pound rankings.

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap dies after battle with COVID-19

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, father of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, has died, according to multiple reports coming out of Russia Friday morning. Abdulmanap was 57 years old.

Back in April, Abdulmanap was admitted to the hospital due to complications with the COVID-19. Abdulmanap was taken to military hospital for observation and treatment. Abdulmanap was induced into a medical coma a couple of times while he battled.

While in the hospital, Abdulmanap also suffered a heart attack which led to a bypass surgery. Recently it was reported that the Abdulmanap was in stable but serious condition. Khabib Nurmagomedov was said to be training twice a day and was using this as more motivation for his UFC title defense later this year.

Friday morning, it was announced by Ramzan Kadyrov via his telegram channel that Abdulmanap had died after his long battle with COVID-19. The UFC is currently scheduled to have Khabib defend his title against Justin Gaethje in September, but you have to think this will be a very difficult camp for Khabib.

UFC 242 just became even more special

For the first time in his UFC career, Khabib had his father Abdulmanap in his corner last September when he fought Dustin Poirier at UFC 242. Abdulmanap had always been Khabib’s head trainer. UFC 242 was the first time he was actually able to travel for the fights because of visa issues in the US. Khabib put on an incredible performance that night. He mentioned how much it meant to him that his father was there to see him defend his UFC title.

Khabib has mentioned that he could not be where he’s at if it had not been for his father. He gives all the credit to his father for developing him into the UFC‘s undisputed lightweight king. This is a devastating time for the Nurmagomedov family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

UFC: Halfway through 2020, what has been the FOTY so far?

We are officially halfway through 2020. The UFC has put on some incredible cards, and the UFC has overcame a worldwide pandemic over the last two months to bring sports back to the world. There have been some incredible fights so far in 2020, but what has been the fight of the year?

Best of the Rest

This year has been so much fun when it comes to the UFC. We have seen the return of Conor McGregor, we’ve seen highlight reel knockouts, and we’ve seen some unforgettable fights. I have come up with a list of the three best fights of 2020, but there are several fights beyond my list that have brought many to their feet. Some of the fights that come to mind are: Emmett/Burgos, Felder/Hooker, Yadong/Vera, and many more. However, the three fights I have picked, I believe stand above the rest.

Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson – UFC 249

When this fight was announced in April, did you expect anything else? Tony Ferguson (25-4) was the boogieman of the lightweight division, and Justin Gaethje (22-2) lives up to his name in being the highlight of the lightweight division. After UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, was pulled from his fight with Ferguson due to COVID-19 restrictions, Gaethje stepped up.

The UFC booked Ferguson/Gaethje for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249. The smart money was on Ferguson leading into the fight. Ferguson hadn’t lost in eight years, and many believed that he was the best lightweight in the world. Gaethje might have been the most exciting fighter in the world, but his reckless style has caused him to drop a few of his bigger fights. However, it became very apparent from the beginning, this was not the old Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje immediately took the center of the octagon throwing sharp and crisp combinations at Ferguson. “El Cucuy” was fully prepared to go to war firing back. The first round was action packed with Gaethje hitting Ferguson often. However, most got the sense that Gaethje would slow down as the fight went on. In the second round, Ferguson picked up his pace and dropped Gaethje near the end of the round.

Personally, I thought Ferguson was going to assume control, but that wasn’t the case. Gaethje came right out in the third with the same pace he started with. However, he was much more calculated. Gaethje was smart and picked his shots wisely against the former UFC interim champion, Ferguson. After putting on a clinic in the later rounds, Gaethje smashed Ferguson’s nose which caused Ferguson to turn away. The referee stopped the fight giving Gaethje the interim title. Both men threw everything they had at the other in an absolute war for five rounds, but on May 9th, Justin Gaethje was the better man.

Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker – UFC on ESPN 12

Man, I think I’m still recovering from this one. This past Saturday at UFC on ESPN 12, Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) and Dan Hooker (20-9) put on an absolute show. The fight was booked earlier in the summer after Hooker had called Poirier out back in February. Poirier was coming off a title shot against Nurmagomedov, and was looking to get back to victory. A win for either man would put them squarely in title contention.

There was really no feeling out process with this fight. After throwing big kicks early, both men looked to focus completely on the other man’s face. In the first two rounds, Hooker did a fantastic job of landing clean and precise shots. Poirier was landing his shots too, but Hooker seemed to have the cleaner lands. Several times early, both men ended up in close quarters just throwing reckless power shots at the other.

Late in the second round, Hooker unleashed a combination that would have put most lightweights down. In fact, if it wasn’t for the cage, I’m not sure Poirier would have stayed on his feet. Poirier went back to his stool down to rounds to the contender from New Zealand. At this point, I thought we were looking at the next UFC title contender in Dan Hooker.

Starting in the third round, Poirier drastically turned the tables. Both men were still throwing all they had at the other, but it was Poirier who was now landing the cleaner shots on Hooker. Both men really started to fatigue in the middle rounds, but Poirier seemed to have just a little more in the tank.

The last two rounds were where Poirier really won the fight. Hooker had slowed massively, and Poirier was taking advantage. Despite getting caught a few times coming in, Poirier’s relentless pace took over in the later rounds. Both men were absolutely battered coming down the stretch of this one.

The fight went to the scorecards and all three judges gave the fight to Poirier. Hooker had won the first two rounds on all scorecards, but Poirier won the final three rounds. A tremendous back and forth battle that will go down as one of the better fights in UFC history.

Weili Zhang vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk – UFC 248

You really can’t get much better than the fight between UFC strawweight champion, Weili Zhang (22-1), and former champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). A few years ago, Jedrzejczyk was known as the best female fighter in the sport. Since losing the title back in 2017, Jedrzejczyk has desperately tried to get back to UFC gold. UFC 248 gave her the chance.

Weili Zhang is the first UFC champion to be born in China. She is turning into a superstar, but she needed an opponent that could truly shine a light on her greatness. She found that opponent back in March when she took on the former champion, Jedrzejczyk.

This fight was so special because it was on the highest of levels, and the action was non-stop. From the opening bell, both ladies threw precise combinations at the other. The pace was unlike anything that I had ever seen in a title fight. Both women were putting everything on their shots, but it wasn’t wild.

This was a striking match on the highest of levels. Jedrzejczyk was really light on her feet throughout the entire fight landing great shots from the outside. Zhang did a tremendous job at stepping in and countering as Jedrzejczyk threw. Both women hit the other frequently, and they hit each other clean. Watching this fight you just had to keep wondering when someone was going to get tired.

All the way into the championship rounds, the women never slowed down. Both ladies pushed forward throwing everything. You had spinning attacks, leg kicks, head kicks, straights, uppercuts, hooks, you know it. It was a striking clinic put on by both women. Both women were visibly beat up, and the fight was razor close.

Entering the final round, I don’t think anyone knew who was winning. The fight was dead even at all times. Every time one woman would land, the other would land a counter. The UFC fans were getting spoiled back in March. In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight to the champion, Weili Zhang. The fight was truly one of the best fights I had ever seen, and it was at the highest level of the sport for a UFC title.

The UFC’s FOTY in 2020 (So far)

All three of these contenders are excellent fights, but if I’m going to give the award, it’s going to Zhang and Jedrzejczyk. The fight was truly a thing of beauty. The perfect balance of technique and violence. It never turned into a brawl where technique went out the window, but you would think with the damage that both women suffered, it was a massive brawl with no defense on display. Also the fact that it was for the title puts it over the top. Women’s MMA has come so far over the last few years, but the fight that Zhang/Jedrzejczyk put on back at UFC 248 is the greatest female fight of all time, and it’s not close in my opinion.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov-Justin Gaethje title fight targeted for UFC 253 on Sept. 19

Arguably the most anticipated UFC title fight of 2020 is getting closer to being official. Combate is reporting that the UFC is close to finalizing the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Justin Gaethje (22-2). The anticipated matchup would headline UFC 253 on September 19th. UFC President, Dana White, has recently said that they were targeting this matchup for September.

Nurmagomedov looks to overcome a tough 2020

For champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, 2020 has not been the best of years. He was scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, but was forced to pull out of the event due to travel restrictions in Russia. Following that, his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, was diagnosed with COVID-19. He’s been in critical condition for a significant portion of time. Despite all of this, Khabib has been in the gym and said to be more motivated than ever to defend his UFC lightweight title. He’s said to be using everything from this year as motivation for him to put on the best performance of his career.

Nurmagomedov has been one of the more dominating fighters the UFC has ever seen. His record is almost confusing because you never see someone reach a record like 28-0 in MMA. Nurmagomedov’s last two performances were the best of his career. At UFC 229, Nurmagomedov smashed bitter rival, Conor McGregor, then submitted him in the fourth round. After being suspended due to a post-fight brawl, Nurmagomedov made his return last September against Dustin Poirier. Poirier had won the interim lightweight title in Khabib’s absense. The fight was very similar to the McGregor fight in that Nurmagomedov had his way before submitting Poirier in the third round. Nurmagomedov might be facing his biggest challenge yet in the form of current interim champion, Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje looks to continue his run to the undisputed UFC title

Back in April of 2018, Justin Gaethje was knocked out in the fourth round by Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fox 29. It was the second straight knockout loss for Gaethje, and he realized he needed to make a big career change. Gaethje said that he would start to have fun in the middle of a brawl which would leave him susceptible to counters which would hurt him badly. Gaethje and coach, Trevor Wittman, started working on Gaethje being more technical and patient inside the octagon. Since the mental change, there has been nobody more impressive in the UFC‘s lightweight division than Gaethje.

Since the loss to Poirier, Gaethje has gone 4-0 with four knockouts including three in the first round. Gaethje’s last performance against Tony Ferguson was truly the “Highlight” of his career. Despite Nurmagomedov being the champion, many people believed that Tony Ferguson was the best lightweight in the world. The two were scheduled to fight before Khabib couldn’t leave Russia. Gaethje decided to step in, and he put on the best performance of his career. Outside of getting dropped in the second round, Gaethje controlled the entire fight before stopping Ferguson in the fifth round to win the UFC‘s interim lightweight championship. These two lightweight superstars are on a collision course, and only one man will leave the undisputed lightweight champion.

The Takedown

This is a very fascinating matchup to breakdown when you think about it stylistically. To date, nobody has been able to stop Nurmagomedov from taking them down. Gaethje is a tremendous wrestler, but in college, he was known for his defensive wrestling. He was incredibly hard to take down. Looking at the two, Gaethje definitely has the advantage on the feet. Gaethje has incredible hands and arguably the best leg kicks in the business. This fight will truly come down to the takedown. If Nurmagomedov can get Gaethje to the ground, it will be just like another Khabib fight. If he can’t, it could be a long night for the Russian. I cannot wait to break this fight down as we get closer to UFC 253.