A month later, the UFC 254 tournament will take place in Abu Dhabi, in the main duel of which the reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the interim title holder Justin Gatji will fight.
Both athletes have already started the final stage of training.
But if the American continues to study in the United States, then the Russian went to the UAE two weeks ago to undergo acclimatization in advance.
In addition, the Eagle is already beginning to prepare himself for weight loss.
“We came neatly and drank water after coffee.
Preparation continues, there is not much left before the tough water diet, ”Nurmagomedov signed a photo on Instagram, in which he is depicted with his teammate Islam Makhachev.
It is worth noting that Nurmagomedov has already experienced certain difficulties during the preparation.
A few days after arriving in the UAE, the Russian got a toothache, which is why he was forced to temporarily suspend the training process.
However, after a couple of days, he resumed his studies.
A more pleasant event was that during the camp he managed to celebrate another birthday.
“32 years old drove up as if not to me.
Very quickly, almost imperceptibly, "the Russian admitted.
Distractions didn't end there, however.
On the eve of UFC 254, anti-doping services are showing an increased interest in the Russian fighter and are regularly testing for doping.
According to Khabib's team, he is forced to take tests every two days.
Moreover, his partners in the Eagles MMA are regularly checked for illegal drugs, many of whom will also perform at the upcoming tournament.
Islam Makhachev will fight with ex-lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, and Umar Nurmagomedov will face off against Sergei Morozov.
There was information that Abubakar Nurmagomedov would also take part in the show, but so far it has not been confirmed.
As for Nurmagomedov's opponent, on the eve of the fight, Gaji seems to be extremely motivated and collected, which does not prevent him from stirring up interest in the fight with the help of loud statements.
Dominant cage performance and his ability to avoid heavy blows have been the reason that Khabib has never bled to death in the Octagon during his UFC career.
But Justin is confident that at the end of October he will be able to change that.
“I will see his blood.
I want him to see his own blood, I want to see how he reacts.
He's not as crazy as I am - that's the point.
I think he is crazy and loves competition, but he is not as mad as I am.
He hasn't seen his own blood often, I'm sure of that.
His fighting style is not designed for bloodshed.
I bet it doesn't even occur to him that he's going to see his own blood.
He never considered such a possibility, ”Gatji quotes ESPN.
Despite having wrestling skills, Gaethje prefers to fight in a standing position and is known for his brightest performances in the octagon.
This is confirmed by the fact that for each of the seven fights in the UFC, the American received a cash bonus.
At the same time, for the battle with Tony Ferguson, he was awarded for both "Performance of the evening" and "Best fight of the tournament".
In this regard, there is no reason not to take Gaji's words seriously.
He has a knockout punch, works great in a standing position and will try to hit Nurmagomedov several times in the opening.
And if one of the American's attacks hits the target, his prediction may well come true.
At the same time, Gatji expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that Nurmagomedov could enter the octagon, accompanied by more than four team members.
According to the American, he tried to negotiate an increase in the number of seconds, but was refused by the UFC.
Therefore, only the coaches and his brother Marcus will be in his corner.
“Trust me, I told Ali (Abdel-Aziz, manager. - RT) that if I come and have more than four accompanying people with him, then I will make a big commotion.
Because I asked if I could come with an operator ... And I know that a lot of people will come with him - I will have big complaints.
And not to him, "Gatji admitted.
Nevertheless, the American's belligerent attitude has not yet allowed him to win over either bookmakers or experts to his side.
Nurmagomedov is considered the favorite in the upcoming duel, which is confirmed even by the current champions of the organization.
So, the holder of the featherweight title Alex Volkanovski said that he prefers the Russian.
“Khabib achieves incredible control over his opponent.
Anyone he grabs will have serious problems.
At the same time, Gaji is an athletic fighter and, probably, it will be great to get out of dangerous situations.
If we assume who will win, then I would say that Khabib with his transcendental control.
If you give him at least a toe, he will grab the foot, then the lower leg, reach the hips, be on top, grab the hand.
In general, it is not easy to break out of Khabib's capture, ”Volkanovski said on the Menace Tube YouTube channel.
Lightweight representative Dan Hooker agreed with him.
At the same time, the Australian paid tribute to Gatji and admitted that wrestling skills make him an uncomfortable opponent for Nurmagomedov.
“It seems to me that Khabib with his level of control in the octagon will be too tough for him.
I think this fight will be the most difficult in Nurmagomedov's career.
It will not be easy for Khabib: he will not smash his opponent to smithereens, but due to control he will still prevail.
So I lean towards Khabib's victory.
Of course, low kicks can be a decisive factor - this is if the opponent stands opposite and calmly takes the blows.
It's just that Khabib doesn't work at that distance.
He quickly closes the distance and comes close.
It's hard to hit the foot of someone running straight at you, ”Hooker said on Submission Radio.
It is worth recalling that initially the next opponent of Nurmagomedov was to be Tony Ferguson, who had a streak of 12 consecutive victories at the beginning of the year.
But the Russian could not take part in the UFC 249 tournament, and Gaethji took his place.
This time, the promotion decided to play it safe and name a substitute fighter for the lightweight title fight in advance.
To the surprise of many, it was not Dustin Poirier who became him, but Michael Chandler, who recently signed a contract with the championship.
The ex-Bellator champion did not waste time and immediately tried to attract the attention of the Russian.
First, he published a collage in which the fighters allegedly conduct a duel of views, as well as the caption: "See you soon."
And then he shared his plan for a fight with Khabib.
“He won't knock me down.
I don't think he can do it.
And if it falls, it won't hold it.
Unlike everyone who has already fought with him, I myself can dump him on the ground.
In the battle of Khabib with Al Iaquinta, it was evident that as soon as he did not get takedowns, he began to act slightly chaotic.
He starts to hesitate, because he realizes that his striking technique is not up to par, "- said Chandler on Instagram.
At the same time, the American highly appreciated the skills of the Russian in the stalls and called him one of the most dominant wrestlers on the planet, and also expressed confidence that very soon he would face off against Khabib.
“He knows that his chances of winning depend on the ability to get close to you, press you to the net, then move to the ground and hold.
The plan is: don't let yourself get knocked down.
But this is the plan of any fighter in general.
You will be able to see this plan in action, perhaps no earlier than October 24th or some other date.
Because in the near future I will have a fight with Khabib for the title.
Get ready, ”concluded Chandler.