UnderGround Forums Breaking Down Justin v. Khabib

5/11/20 1:38 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15110
Breaking Down Khabib v. Justin

There’s a scene in Michael Mann’s Ali. Ali and his crew are waiting for the Frazier rematch. One day, they are watching a fight, and they see the champ get throttled by Foreman. They realize that Ali’s next big challenge won’t be Frazier; it’ll be George—a different, but equally scary challenge. I feel like that’s the best parallel for Gaethje-Khabib.

How will it play out? By my measure, Gaethje is the best wrestler Khabib has ever fought and the second best striker. That makes him a uniquely difficult match up. Justin’s greatest weapons against Khabib are his TDD, his power, and his excellent lateral footwork. This isn’t Raging Al. Khabib can’t pepper Justin with sloppy jabs if the takedown fails.

One other factor: Unlike RDA, Justin doesn't square up his hips too much when he throws a cross. This is one big reason why RDA has been to vulnerable to good wrestlers.

What are the big questions? To me, there are a few:

(1) What does Justin look like on bottom? Does he adopt a defensive guard ala Anderson Silva or even Conor? That might be the safest option. Does he use his folk style hopes to get back to his feet ala RDA? Great, if it works. But, Khabib has become so much more dangerous on top since the RDA fight and Justin risks the fight looking like Khabib/Porrier if he opens up from guard too much.

(2) What role does leg kicks play? I’ll probably not find much support not this, but I think Justin should utilize leg kicks in the fight. Khabib does not have a power double. His takedowns are best from the clinch. Justin can throw quick, low leg kicks without too much risk. Does he?

(3) How good is Khabib’s chin? We’ve seen him rocked a few times. What happens if Justin puts some real damage on him?

(4) Does Justin have the cardio to include even more lateral movement than he did in the Tony fight? IMO, that is his best method to keep Khabib off him.

At the end of the day, Khabib takes great fighters down. His top game gets more devastating every fight. The most likely option is that Justin gets Porriered.

But, Justin just destroyed Tony Ferguson. I am not counting that guy out for one second.
5/11/20 1:42 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 3883
Good post. Really looking forward to this one.
5/11/20 1:46 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15112
wrongaboutVitali - Good post. Really looking forward to this one.

Thanks!

There's going to be a lot of nonsense on this forum leading up to the fight. Trolls claiming Justin has no chance. Trolls claiming Khabib has no chance.

It's a toss up fight. And it might be a war. And it might be a blow out. But, it is as high level of a fight as we've seen. IMO, this is Jones-Cormier, Fedor-Cro Cop, Cruz-Dillishaw level fighting. Cannot wait.

5/11/20 1:48 PM
11/1/19
Posts: 2277

I think Justin shakes off his takedown attempts.. 70+% accuracy rate against Tony. Khabib will be easy to hit. It’s only a matter if Khabib can get him down and smother him. I don’t see that happening as it usually does for Khabib. Justin finishes him inside of 3 rounds.

5/11/20 1:52 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15114

Oh, I also meant to add these questions:

Footwork: What footwork approach does Khabib take? Does he take the Al-Conor approach and shoot singles early to force grappling exchanges? Does he blitz and smother, like he did against Edson? Does he take a moderate approach, like he did against Dustin?

I'd encourage the Dustin option. Justin's hands, power, and footwork are too good to smother like he did with Edson. He'll get KOd. The distance singles are a good way to get smothered with an All-American level sprawl and waste energy. It could like a Maia-Woodley fight if he does that.

5/11/20 8:27 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15146

ttt

5/11/20 8:34 PM
11/1/19
Posts: 2286
wiggum -

ttt

Ttt

 

 

 

 

 

5/12/20 12:16 AM
7/5/13
Posts: 907

Justin talked about his ability to scramble if Khabib takes him down so that would likely be what he tries to do rather than working for guard. I think he will use leg kicks as they are pretty much in his fight dna at this point. His cardio will probably be fine, he trains at high altitude in Denver and looked great this past weekend.

5/12/20 12:45 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60074

great actual fight talk thread as usual my man!

Some of my initial thoughts are when Justin said, and even though he looked great for all 5 rounds vs Tony, he would need the full camp for Khabib cuz the wrestling cardio is diff than striking cardio. Unless Justin catches Khabib and takes him out early, whether he is successfully defending tds or not, he's gonna be wrestling and while much has been made of the fact that Justin has attempted 0 tds in the UFC, we also haven't really seen him defend many tds either esp against a primary wrestler.

On the other hand, yeah, its true, Justin will prob be the best wrestler Khabib will face. So, how good was Justin's colleage career? How high did he place out of curiosity? But more importantly, how good is his MMA wreslting esp in the sprawl n brawl context? Like, how good is he gonna be letting his hands and kicks go against someone who he is constantly gonna have to fear the td against?

Great technical points on RDA squaring up and Khabib not having the greatest power double for which Justin could afford to leg kick.

5/12/20 12:52 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60075

RE: #1 - I think Connor played Khabib well in R1 on the ground in a more defend and conserve mode than scramble to get back to feet. People forget Khabib is not 100% on his tds (no one is) and he doesn't keep guys there every time (no one does). But the energy it takes to get back up, that could drain Justin's pop in his arms. But I doubt a guy like Justin is gonna have a great guard but perhaps it doesn't have to be "great" in on offensive sense, he just has to defend/conserve. Cant see him being on his back being good period though.

RE: #2 - I think you might be right about the leg kicks as Khabib is not a blast double guy. However, can Khabib still catch them to a clinch or to a single?

RE: #3 - I doubt Khabib can take the shots Tony did but I also dispute the fact that he was rocked vs MJ and Dustin. He may have taken flush shots and went momentarily on the defense but there wasn't the most definitive evidence that he was actually rocked in both times there imo. Khabib isn't gonna just stand with Justin and go at him like Tony though. Tony kinda gave Justin what he needed all night and didn't change it up.

RE: #4 - Justin's sprawl and brawl strategy will be interesting. He played the matador striking wise vs Tony unlike we've seen before. But keeping out of td range and still tagging Khabib is too diff things. At the same time, I am stoked to see the wreslting exchanges between him and Khabib.

5/12/20 12:53 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60076

Justin, Tony, Connor all present very diff I wish Kevin Lee could get it together, he has a lot of potential but just does not seem to be consistent mentally.

5/12/20 12:57 AM
7/27/04
Posts: 24345

In

5/12/20 12:59 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60079

Like Josh Thompson was saying, its a lot diff striking when you have to worry about Khabib's tds and Khabib's striking and sense of distance to set up the tds have improved.

Maybe Justin doesn't fear the td though. But the more he gets taken down, the more he loses. The more energy he spends, the more damage he takes, the more he wont be winning.

5/12/20 12:59 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60080

Still bummed about Tony. Really wanted to see how his would matchup vs Khabib esp as the only guard specialist of the bunch.

5/12/20 5:27 AM
10/4/02
Posts: 5958

Justin's ability to move laterally is excellent and could be key to avoiding the td. For what it's worth, that was a big part of chuck liddell's sucess in keeping it standing with Randy back in the day. I was really impressed with Justin's ability to control distance and timing and deliver quality strikes. Great toolbox against Khabib imo

5/13/20 3:44 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15200

Planning on responding to these great posts later.

5/24/20 3:34 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15322
androushka - 

Justin's ability to move laterally is excellent and could be key to avoiding the td. For what it's worth, that was a big part of chuck liddell's sucess in keeping it standing with Randy back in the day. I was really impressed with Justin's ability to control distance and timing and deliver quality strikes. Great toolbox against Khabib imo


-I rewatched the Dustin fight. Dustin's in-and-out footwork and lack of lateral movement really, really cost him. Justin looked entirely different in the Tony fight.

I've helped a bunch of kickboxers/boxers make the transition to MMA over the years. The ones who found success were the ones who utilized lateral movement to stymy wrestlers. Those who couldn't struggled mightily with TDD. IMHO, too many MMA coaches focus on teaching sprawling techniques. Most defensive MMA wrestling comes from footwork.

-That said, after watching the Dustin fight, I have to concede that Khabib's shots have become much faster over the years and it's probably no longer fair to say that he lacks a power double.

5/24/20 3:36 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15323
Wasa-B - 

Still bummed about Tony. Really wanted to see how his would matchup vs Khabib esp as the only guard specialist of the bunch.


I am starting to think that the closed guard is under-utilized in MMA. Stipe v. Daniel and Conor v. Mendes are examples of inferior wrestlers making being on top unpleasant and ultimately setting up TKOs from the feet. Tony's willingness to concede guard would have been so interesting.

That said, the ease at which Kevin Lee passed Tony's guard was always concerning to me.

5/24/20 3:37 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15324
Wasa-B - 

great actual fight talk thread as usual my man!

Some of my initial thoughts are when Justin said, and even though he looked great for all 5 rounds vs Tony, he would need the full camp for Khabib cuz the wrestling cardio is diff than striking cardio. Unless Justin catches Khabib and takes him out early, whether he is successfully defending tds or not, he's gonna be wrestling and while much has been made of the fact that Justin has attempted 0 tds in the UFC, we also haven't really seen him defend many tds either esp against a primary wrestler.

On the other hand, yeah, its true, Justin will prob be the best wrestler Khabib will face. So, how good was Justin's colleage career? How high did he place out of curiosity? But more importantly, how good is his MMA wreslting esp in the sprawl n brawl context? Like, how good is he gonna be letting his hands and kicks go against someone who he is constantly gonna have to fear the td against?

Great technical points on RDA squaring up and Khabib not having the greatest power double for which Justin could afford to leg kick.


He was a solid all-american, but not a legend. That said, being your school's first ever all-american usually means you had a ton of talent. To become an all-american at a school that doesn't produce all-americans is very, very impressive.

5/24/20 3:43 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 15325
Wasa-B - 

RE: #1 - I think Connor played Khabib well in R1 on the ground in a more defend and conserve mode than scramble to get back to feet. People forget Khabib is not 100% on his tds (no one is) and he doesn't keep guys there every time (no one does). But the energy it takes to get back up, that could drain Justin's pop in his arms. But I doubt a guy like Justin is gonna have a great guard but perhaps it doesn't have to be "great" in on offensive sense, he just has to defend/conserve. Cant see him being on his back being good period though.

RE: #2 - I think you might be right about the leg kicks as Khabib is not a blast double guy. However, can Khabib still catch them to a clinch or to a single?

RE: #3 - I doubt Khabib can take the shots Tony did but I also dispute the fact that he was rocked vs MJ and Dustin. He may have taken flush shots and went momentarily on the defense but there wasn't the most definitive evidence that he was actually rocked in both times there imo. Khabib isn't gonna just stand with Justin and go at him like Tony though. Tony kinda gave Justin what he needed all night and didn't change it up.

RE: #4 - Justin's sprawl and brawl strategy will be interesting. He played the matador striking wise vs Tony unlike we've seen before. But keeping out of td range and still tagging Khabib is too diff things. At the same time, I am stoked to see the wreslting exchanges between him and Khabib.


-If I were coaching Justin, I think my strategy on the ground would be (1) See if you can scramble before Khabib secures position; (2) Find your way to a good, grimy, defensive guard where you can hold, elbow, and stall.

Mike Brown is a great coach. But his and Dustin's strategy of going for the switch consistently was one of the dumber strategies I've seen in MMA. Dustin was never going to hit that switch and, even if he did, Khabib is great off his back.

-Khabib can definitely capitalize off Justin's kicks. But, it might require him taking an aggressive, forward marching strategy like he did versus Edson. That might get him KOd against Justin.

-He might not have been rocked, but he wasn't comfortable. Same thing happened with Dustin. Unlike those guys, Justin might punish him for those moments of discomfort.

-100% about the ring generalship being different with Khabib. Khabib is different than any fighter Justin has ever fought.

5/25/20 10:23 AM
2/17/03
Posts: 15330

ttt

5/25/20 10:27 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 64424

ttt

5/25/20 10:28 AM
2/9/09
Posts: 11364

Khabib has to be perfect for 25 minutes. Gaethje just has to be perfect for 1. 

5/25/20 10:38 AM
2/17/03
Posts: 15332
The Closed Guard - 

Khabib has to be perfect for 25 minutes. Gaethje just has to be perfect for 1. 


I'm not sure that I agree with this.

Justin has crazy power, but he's not Anderson Silva or Ngannou. In fact, as the Dustin fight showed, simple mistakes against Khabib can have dire consequences.

If in round one, for example, Justin gets taken down and gives up his back to get back to his feet only to get ridden and beaten up by Khabib, the fight might very well be downhill from there.

5/26/20 1:24 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 60129

Wiggs, just what the doctor ordered: