UFC 254: Is Khabib Beatable?

The simple answer to the question I posed in the title is no, Khabib Nurmagomedov is not beatable. For his upcoming UFC 254 match, the question is not whether or not Justin Gaethje will win the fight. The question is whether or not he will win a round…or even last past the first round for that matter.

At 28-0, Khabib is making a case for himself as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. He will never have the fame or superstardom in America that fighters like Conor McGregor have enjoyed because Khabib has made a name for himself as a wrestler, not a brawler. Fighters like McGregor captivate us because Americans crave the knockout punch. Of his 22 career wins, only two have come by decision and one by submission. Compare that to Khabib who has 10 career wins by submission and another 9 by decision.

Khabib is a technical fighter. He’s going to wear his opponent down with superior wrestling skills and a devotion to putting both weight and pressure on whoever he is fighting. In his entire career, he has lost just one round. One round! And that came against McGregor in October of 2018. Khabib is a dominant force that rolls through everyone he faces.

Gaethje, on the other hand, is a brawler like McGregor. While he can wrestle, it’s not something that he wants to do in the octagon. The last time we saw him was in May of this year when he beat Tony Ferguson to a pulp. He’s not going to be able to do that against Khabib. While Gaethje will work his hardest to keep Khabib on his feet, he’s going to end up spending the majority of this fight on the mat.

It would have been really fun to see how Khabib would have handled Ferguson – a fight that’s been cancelled too many times to count. Ferguson could have handled the ground onslaught while also providing the same kind of punching ability that Gaethje has. But, unfortunately, that’s not the fight that we’re going to see tomorrow.

I like Justin Gaethje, and I love that he turned down the interim belt because he’s waiting for the real one. But I think he’s going to end up having to wait until Khabib retires to get it.

Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Justin Gaethje via first round submission (triangle choke)

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