Top ten UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje scored his second straight first-round knockout victory on Saturday night, when he finised Edson Barboza inside two and a half minutes of action. During a post-fight media scrum, “The Highlight” stated his intentions to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov, since he believes he is a bad matchup for the current champion.
Khabib never really responds to such words unless they were said by his Irish rival, but his coach Javier Mendez spoke in his behalf on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
“Not much,” Mendez said speaking of how much of a threat Gaethje is to Khabib (via MMA Fighting). “Not much, because he ain’t going to be able to stop the takedown. None of those guys can. [Nurmagomedov will] take them all down, and if they don’t have much of a ground game, they’re done.”
The only way Mendez sees Gaethje having a chance is if Khabib went of out character inside the Octagon.
“The only way it becomes interesting is if Khabib decides to do things. Look back on all his fights, it’s only when he decides to stand with people that it becomes a little bit trickier,” Mendez explained. “I mean, he stood with Conor (McGregor) so he gave Conor a chance, and I’m begging for him, ‘Go back to father’s plan. Go back to father’s plan.’ He screws with me all the time.
“He did the same with Michael Johnson. I’m telling him, ‘What are you doing? Go back to father’s plan.’ Father’s plan, that’s what I call ‘just wrestle the guy, take him down and wrestle him.’ And he does that all the damn time.”
Mendez sees his fighter as a one of a kind fighter who can take opponents down at will, combined with the ability to take shots.
“If he wants to take somebody down, he’ll take him down,” Mendez said of Khabib. “I don’t care who it is. In his weight division, he’ll take them all down. And guess what? If they get back up, he’ll take them back down again. I’ve seen it too many times. I’ve never seen anybody like him and we’ll probably never see anybody like him again.
“The guy can take a shot, he doesn’t even get fazed,” he continued. “I mean, look, Barboza kicks him in the head, it didn’t even look like, what, nothing. And then Michael Johnson taps him right on the head and I’m like, ‘Dude, he hit you.’ And he goes, ‘No, he didn’t.’ And I go, ‘Yes, he did. He hit you with a decent shot. I mean, you didn’t show it very much, but you can’t get caught like that too much.’
“But it’s up to Khabib. Khabib is the reason why these fights are more standup than they need to be. My choice is always, just take them and smash them. And he could do that to every one of these guys.”
From his end, “The Eagle” has yet to determine his next fight date and opponent. UFC president Dana White already declared Khabib’s return for September, a couple of months after the UFC 229 brawl suspension is scheduled to lapse.
Mendez’ interview begins at the 53:00 mark of the video above.