Before seeking a lucrative superfight against Conor McGregor, rising UFC star Justin Gaethje has an epic plan to capture undisputed status at 155 pounds.
Gaethje, the UFC’s interim lightweight champion is scheduled to take on longtime lightweight kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov on October 24 at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, and the 31-year-old American slugger revealed to ESPN this week that he plans on making “The Eagle” bleed.
“I know I’m going to see his blood. I want him to see his blood, and I want to see his reaction,” Justin Gaethje said per ESPN.
Gaethje said he believes making his opponent see his own blood is something that could help him do what no other fighter has ever done before: defeat Nurmagomedov in an MMA cage fight.
Gaethje: ‘I Think He Is Crazy’
Gaethje believes his mental toughness will carry him to victory.
“I think he is crazy and loves competition, but he isn’t quite as crazy as me,” Gaethje said per ESPN. “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.”
Indeed, Gaethje’s liberal use of concussive force is sure to break more faces and cause more bloody tissue than Nurmagomedov’s wrestling-centric style.
Still, nobody can doubt at this point the absurd effectiveness of Nurmagomedov’s game.
There might be no better fighter in the sport right now, and the 32-year-old Russian dynamo is easily one of the most dominant forces in MMA history.
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UFC 254 Features Lightweight Stars on Hotstreaks
UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje might be a case of an immovable object meeting an irresistible force.
After all, Gaethje enters the biggest fight of his career on a four-fight win streak. The tremendously hard striker upset Tony Ferguson via fifth-round stoppage at UFC 249 in May to capture interim gold.
Before that, Gaethje had strung together three first-round knockout wins in a row against Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is undefeated across all promotions including the UFC. His last win was a dominant third-round submission of Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019.
Before that, Nurmagomedov did the same thing to Conor McGregor in the fourth round of their epic battle at UFC 229 in October 2018.
Now, Nurmagomedov returns to action for the first time in 2020 in what could be his toughest test to date.
Gaethje plans on making that be the case, and he wants Nurmagomedov to deal with seeing blood in the fight.
That’s easier said than done.
Gaethje Doesn’t Regret Tackling Champ Before McGregor
Per that same ESPN interview with Brett Okamoto, Gaethje also revealed that he didn’t regret what happened with McGregor over the summer.
Or rather, what didn’t happen.
There was a time in 2020 that Gaethje was considered one of the front-runners to land the gig against McGregor, but Gathje said he’s glad he ended up facing Nurmagomedov first instead.
“I think it was there,” said Gaethje per ESPN. “If there was any kind of interest, [the UFC] would have tried to make it. Financially, it’s a big gamble, it’s a lot riskier. But this is the goal…not just wealth: legacy. That’s what I’m most excited for about this opportunity.”
So Gaethje believes he can beat Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 by making him bleed and that a massive superfight against McGregor would soon follow.
“I’ve watched this sport a long time since Tito Ortiz was champion in the early 2000s. Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, all those guys. I truly think, if I can beat Khabib and Conor McGregor [after that], I will have cemented something that is almost unmatched.”
First things first though. Gaethje has some serious work cut out for him at UFC 254.
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