Khabib Nurmagomedov Shares Wonderful Story Summing Up Respect Between Him And Justin Gaethje
UFC 254 will see the pair do battle for the lightweight championship as things come full circle. Rewind four years and Gaethje, who shares the same manager as his upcoming opponent, was helping Khabib cut weight for his fight with Darrell Horcher.
Weight-cutting on extremely short notice normally involves hot baths and towel wrapping in what is an incredibly gruelling and exhausting process.
Gaethje was there to assist the Dagestani fighter and Khabib will forever be grateful for what he did - even if they have to "handle business" in two months.
Speaking in a press conference translated by RT, Khabib said: "I've known Gaethje for a while, since he fought in WSOF
"I remember in 2016 when I was returning after I had three surgeries in a row, when Tony Ferguson got injured and I got Darrell Horcher on nine days' notice.
"Justin helped me cut weight. I had a tough weight cut. He helped me cut the last 2.5 kilograms the morning before the weigh-ins.
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"I remember I dropped the last kilogram in the hot bath.
"You might not know how we cut weight - you spend 15 minutes in a hot bath, then you're wrapped in a towel and go back in. You do that three, four times.
"He helped take me out of the bath because there weren't enough people around.
"You need a couple of people around you and Justin was there for me, so I have no ill will toward him.
"He fights [and] wants to be the best in the world and I respect his efforts. He achieved 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'll get in the cage, shake hands, handle our business and leave."
With his aggressive approach, Gaethje makes for a very credible challenger for Khabib but the 28-0 star believes he pales in comparison to former opponent and fierce rival Conor McGregor when it comes to striking.
"But I kind of agree that Gaethje is a very good fighter," Khabib added.
"If he was bad he would not have fought for the belt. Is he better standing than Conor? I think no. My fighting IQ tells me that Conor is better standing than Gaethje."