Khabib Nurmagomedov recalls Justin Gaethje’s help in weight reduction

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UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov said there was no bad blood between him and Justin Gaethje ahead of their title unification battle, and revealed how his latest championship rival l ‘had actually helped put on weight for a crucial fight early in his UFC career.Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) and Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) are set to compete for the undisputed crown in the main event of UFC 254 on October 24 and the undefeated Russian has stated that he had no personal beef with “The Highlight” before their game.

“I’ve known Gaethje for a while, since he fought at the WSOF,” Nurmagomedov explained (via RT Sport translation). “I remember in 2016 when I was coming home from three consecutive surgeries, when Tony Ferguson got injured and I had Darrell Horcher on nine days’ notice (at UFC on Fox 19). Justin helped me reduce the weight. I have had difficult weight reduction. He helped me cut the last 2.5 kilograms (about 5.5 pounds) in the morning before the weigh-ins.

“I remember I dropped the last kilogram in the hot tub. You might not know how we reduce the weight – you spend 15 minutes in a hot tub, then get wrapped in a towel and go back in. You do this three, four times. He helped me out of the bath because there were not enough people. Islam Makhachev reduced weight, as did Omari Akhmedov. We were all fighting the same night. You need a few people around you and Justin was there for me so I have no bad will towards him.

“He fights (and) wants to be the best in the world and I respect his efforts. He’s accomplished a lot in the sport and I think he’s a worthy opponent. You saw what he did to Tony Ferguson. I don’t underestimate him. It’s strictly professional. We are going to enter the cage, shake hands, mind our business and leave.

While Nurmagomedov may have respect for his latest rival, he said history repeats itself in the narrative portrayed by the media ahead of their next fight. He also revealed that he believes Conor McGregor is a better striker than the current interim champion.

“Before the fight with (Edson) Barboza they said he was my most uncomfortable rival,” he said. “Then they said the same thing before the fight with Conor, then with (Dustin) Poirier.

“They didn’t have time to say that about (Al) Iaquinta, because they gave me a fight in a few hours. I am sensitive to this, but journalists must say something to rekindle their interest in the battle.

“But I tend to agree that Gaethje is a very good fighter. If he had been bad he wouldn’t have fought for the belt. Is he better on his feet than Conor? I think not. My combat IQ tells me that Conor is better on his feet than Gaethje.

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