Coach Javier Mendez: Why I believe Khabib takes down Gaethje

Javier Mendez, founder of AKA and coach to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, appeared recently on Hablemos MMA, ahead of the unification fight vs. interim champ Justin Gaetje in the main event of UFC 254 on Saturday. It is widely understood that the former All American Gaethje is the best wrestler, by far, that Nurmagomedov has ever faced. And Gaethje is preparing with UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, a former Div II national champion in folkstyle.

Still, the coach’s confidence remains high. Gaethje has been taken down twice in this seven UFC fights. Medez believes that number will be higher on Sunday.

“I know he’s working with the welterweight champion, so he does have someone good working with him, but it’s different when you’re fighting Khabib,” said Mendez. “It’s different. Let’s see what happens, but he’s preparing well, he’s preparing with the champion and the champion is really good.”

“The thing with Justin is, when has he used wrestling? I’ve never seen it. Just to get up, but he hasn’t used the wrestling. So let’s see what happens. If we can’t get him down, we have a fight. If we get him down there’s not going to be a big problem because he doesn’t work on the ground, from what I’ve seen. If you’re not working wrestling in your fights, it’s going to be hard in your first fight given how big the fight is and that he’s taking on the master of the ground in Khabib. It’s going to be tough for him. However, if we can’t get him down, it will be hard for us.”

“He says he’s tough to take down, so let’s see what happens. I don’t think it’s going to be as hard as he thinks, but it’s possible that it’s tough to take him down. I don’t believe it will, because Khabib is a master at taking the fight to the ground. Look, if you’re an Olympic wrestler and it’s in MMA, he’ll take you down. He’s the master of this. He knows how to penetrate, how to enter with his striking, he knows. It’s different, it’s not the same.”

h/t Danny Segura for MMA Junkie

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