The fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje is rightfully considered one of the most important events in MMA in 2020 and is expected to cause huge excitement among fans.
There is no doubt that under normal circumstances the UFC would have tried to hold a press conference with the largest scale and in the presence of fans, but in difficult epidemiological conditions it was forced to abandon this idea.
The event was held outdoors, and only promotions and media representatives had access to it.
Traditionally, the first questions were addressed to the President of the Absolute Fighting Championship, Dana White.
One of them concerned the decision of the promotion not to adapt to the American audience, but to arrange a tournament in the evening local time.
The functionary expressed confidence that due to the popularity of the reigning lightweight champion, such decisions will not affect the level of excitement and the number of sold broadcasts of the show.
“Khabib is one of the biggest stars in sports, not just mixed martial arts.
His videos have garnered 222 million views.
Video content with his participation - more than 100 million views this year alone - and this is only on Facebook.
He breaks records on Instagram.
His character in a video game is ranked first in popularity by an incredible margin.
I could go on.
But what makes this fight really big is what many believe Justin can beat him.
So it has all the ingredients for an amazing fight - a big superstar and a fighter who defeated a highly respected opponent in the last fight and is considered by many to have the qualities necessary to succeed, ”said White.
The fight between Nurmagomedov and Gatji stands out for another reason.
In recent years, big fights have invariably been held in a tense atmosphere, and the opponents are not shy about the most violent insults.
However, Khabib and Justin treat each other with respect.
“This is not one of those fights where fighters have to yell at each other and so on.
People know very well who these guys are and what they are capable of.
That is why this fight is so important.
Yesterday I spoke to the media, and this fight promises to be the loudest in UFC history, and by a huge margin.
Let's see what will happen on Thursday and Friday, when data on pre-orders and other similar numbers begin to arrive.
It's hard to say now, but for Monday and Tuesday, the numbers are more than good, ”White said.
At the same time, the UFC president did not dare to name the favorite, but expressed the opinion that if successful, Nurmagomedov could take first place in the rating of fighters, regardless of weight categories (Pound-for-Pound).
“I don’t know (how the fight will end. -
This is another aspect that makes this fight incredibly exciting.
You think you know what your opponents are going to do, but anything can happen in a cage.
Therefore, this fight is of such interest all over the world.
Tell me, when was the last time Gajee's fight was bad?
There are simply no such fights.
And this one is generally undefeated
(points to Nurmagomedov).
How many rounds has he lost in his entire career?
Khabib has a chance to become more than just the best fighter in his weight.
I think if he beats Gaethje on Saturday, he will be the best in the world, regardless of weight class.
We often talk about the accomplishments of John Jones.
But look how many fights this guy has fought.
And he is still invincible.
And that's in such a difficult division, ”White concluded.
After that, the journalists switched to the tournament participants themselves.
So, Nurmagomedov was asked if it is more difficult for him to fight in Abu Dhabi than in Las Vegas.
A year earlier, the Russian himself admitted that he felt less comfortable surrounded by his own fans because of the huge burden of responsibility.
According to him, this time nothing has changed.
It's a little tricky here, but it's always tricky, whether you're fighting or losing weight.
It is always difficult to feel such pressure.
It is never easy here.
Now is a difficult time for me: to fight here in Abu Dhabi, during a pandemic, without spectators and fans.
So it's a little difficult, yes, ”Nurmagomedov said.
In general, the champion was more than ever friendly towards both his future opponents and former ones.
“He (Gaethje -
) knocked out a lot of great fighters.
Was a great champion in other organizations, here in the UFC, he won the interim belt.
Beat Tony Ferguson.
I think beating a guy like Justin will mean a lot to my legacy.
In my opinion, if we are talking about the first round, then Gaethje and McGregor are the most dangerous fighters in the world.
But in the next ones they are not so scary, ”the champion said.
Nurmagomedov, as expected, especially noted Gaetji's skills in the standing position, but did not forget about the fight.
At one time, Justin played in the first division of the NCAA, which could not but bear fruit.
“Justin has dynamite in his fists, and he kicks very well.
Everyone is good in the stand - Gatji, Poirier, McGregor.
But when I capture it, everything changes.
I think he understands wrestling more than Conor, Dustin and other guys.
It won't be easy.
But I'm getting ready to try to knock him down 100 times in the evening, ”Nurmagomedov said.
Nevertheless, the reigning champion found significant differences between the wrestling skills of himself and his opponent.
According to him, the Dagestan school differs markedly from the American one.
“You should ask what is the difference between the American and Dagestan struggles.
This is a great question.
I think there are very serious differences here.
He knows how to fight.
But will he be able to fight for 25 minutes?
Today I told Daniel Cormier: “When you last fought with Stipe Miocic, you grabbed him by the leg and knocked him down, but he quickly got up.
And that was the end of it. "
But there is a big difference between Cormier and me.
If I knock my opponent down one day, I can keep him on the ground for the whole fight, "Nurmagomedov explained.
Unsurprisingly, Nurmagomedov was also asked about a possible retirement.
Earlier, the Russian has repeatedly announced his intention to hang his gloves on a nail after reaching a record of 30-0.
However, he is not sure that after retiring from the sport he can be put on a par with legends such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
“Muhammad Ali is on a different level.
Tyson is almost there, but as a person, Ali is on a completely different level.
When I was growing up, I watched the fights of these people.
These are the greatest athletes.
It is unlikely that I will ever be able to approach them.
Yes, and I have no such goal.
I just want to win every fight.
Let's see what will happen next.
I still have something to say, ”Nurmagomedov said.
He also admitted that he cannot yet say what exactly he will dream of after leaving the UFC, but admitted that he has many goals outside the octagon.
As for the future opponent, Nurmagomedov did not run ahead.
“Honestly, I don’t like the word“ if ”.
You never know what will happen tomorrow.
Need to focus on Gatji and Saturday night.
What will happen after, you need to ask Dana White, ”concluded Nurmagomedov.
In turn, Gaethje also behaved extremely calmly and spoke respectfully of the reigning champion.
In particular, he reacted very calmly to Nurmagomedov's recent statements that he intends to wear down his counterparts and win in the third or fourth round.
“Khabib is confident in what he is doing.
He did it 28 times.
Therefore, I expected that he would believe in such a development of events.
Honestly, I even told myself that it would happen.
And that's what motivated me every day.
But I am a fighter, I have been doing this for as long as he does.
It's in our blood.
On Saturday I will do my best to be proud of my performance, ”said Gaethje.
At the same time, the interim lightweight champion impressed many when he admitted that he had not revisited the battles with Nurmagomedov before the face-to-face duel.
According to him, in recent years, he has repeatedly watched the performances of Khabib, but in the course of preparation he decided to abandon this.
“I always focus on being in my best shape.
Khabib did not fight those who specialized in wrestling as long as he did.
And this is just me, I have a similar experience.
Everyone always says, "I'm ready," but I won't let him hold me against the net.
Otherwise, I am in trouble.
If he wants to grapple, then we grapple in the center of the cage.
I, as I have already repeated a thousand times, hit hard, I have hard bones, so I will hit him in the legs.
Let's start with this, and then we'll see, ”Gatji shared his plan for the fight.
According to Justin, he is not even embarrassed by the fact that in fact he will have to fight in enemy territory.
Khabib is extremely popular in the UAE.
“Several years ago I wanted to go to Brazil to fight their best fighter.
Then I was going to go to Ireland to meet their best sportsman.
I was ready to go to Russia to fight with Khabib.
The arena is in chaos.
It is clear that no one really wants you dead.
But the hostile attitude of the fans only energizes me.
Therefore, I am looking forward to when the audience returns to the stands.
When there are 100,000 people in the stands again who want to tear me to pieces, it’s a fantastic feeling, ”said Gatji.
Justin also said that the fact that his parents will support him on the show will be of great importance to him.
According to the fighter, they have never traveled outside the United States or flew in business class before, so this week is special for his family.
“My parents never flew abroad, especially in business class.
My father retired a year ago after working 37 years in a copper mine.
The mother is still working.
But she will retire.
If this fight takes place, and the gong sounds, then I will provide her old age, and after this fight she will retire.
It has been operating for 35 years.
My parents never had the opportunity to fly to other countries, they spent all their money on me, my brother and sister.
They gave us opportunities ... You know, we live two hours away from any major city.
The trip for the school uniform was a holiday for us.
We woke up and went to wrestling tournaments.
The journey took two to three hours, sometimes it was necessary to spend the night there.
And every time it hit the parents' pocket.
Nothing is more important to me than being able to repay them for it.
But when I enter the octagon, everything fades, no one is around.
I only hear the voice of my coach, and I focus exclusively on this.
But I'm glad my parents can watch the fight, ”added Gaethje.