16 Oct [MMA] 
Justin Gaethje on Khabib Nurmagomedov's durability: 'His main priority is to not take damage'

Justin Gaethje has a few questions heading into the biggest fight of his life.

The UFC interim lightweight champion will share the cage on Oct. 24 against undisputed cham Khabib Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout set to headline UFC 254 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It’s a colossal fight in the history of the UFC’s 155-pound division.

And although Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) knows very well what Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) brings to the table, he does have a few doubts about the unbeaten champion, specifically about how much damage he can take.

“I create damage,” Gaethje told Morning Kombat. “If I barely miss and barely clip, it’s still damage, damage that’s done. In a 25-minute fight, I will create damage one way or another. The thing about Tony (Ferguson) is that Tony loves that. (And) One sure thing about Khabib is that he does not love that.

“His main priority is to not take damage, so he can live a quality life and that’s admirable. But when I hurt you, where does your mind go when your first thought is, ‘Don’t get hurt?’ I don’t know, I’m excited to see his reaction to that.”

There’s no doubt Nurmagomedov has faced many dangerous fighters capable of dishing out plenty of damage over the course of his career, but Gaethje feels he brings a new level of pain.

“I’m talking damage of nerves, of bone touching bone,” Gaethje explained. “When one person’s bone touches another person’s bone something has to give there. It’s physics. It’s as true as true can be.

“I think he’s been cracked. I think he’s been clipped, but I don’t think he’s taken sustainable damage like leg kicks, body shots, and things like that. I don’t think nobody has been able to do that.”

Gaethje knows he’s facing arguably the greatest and biggest star of his career.  It’s a bout that has many implications and promises plenty to the victor. But although there’s high stakes, “The Highlight” is looking at this fight like any other.

“Obviously it’s huge, but internally you have to stay leveled, you have to stay grounded,” Gaethje explained. “I can’t make it this huge event because it’s 25 minutes of time and you have to be perfect in that time. That’s all I’m preparing for.”