TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 4/2: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coach not worried about Justin Gaethje, Khabib calls Conor ‘jealous wife’, and more

By Michael Hiscoe, Managing Editor

Khabib Nurmagomedov (photo credit Reinhold Matay © USA Today Sports)

Father’s plan

Justin Gaethje’s big win in Philadelphia on Saturday night coupled with Conor McGregor’s so-called retirement from MMA has stimulated talk of how Gaethje would do against current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Speaking to host Luke Thomas on “The MMA Hour,” Nurmagomedov’s coach Javier Mendez said that he doesn’t like Gaethje’s chances if he’s matched up with Khabib.

“He ain’t going to be able to stop the takedown,” Mendez said of Gaethje. “None of those guys can. [Nurmagomedov will] take them all down, and if they don’t have much of a ground game, they’re done.”

Some would argue that Gaethje’s ground game is better than most people recognize and that he chooses to keep fights standing. Nurmagomedov nearly fell into Al Iaquinta’s trap last year when they fought when the champ chose to go toe to toe in the standup instead of trying to take “Raging Al” down. This strategy is one that Mendez doesn’t necessarily recommend, but he also recognizes that it’s Nurmagomoedov’s choice.

“Look back on all his fights, it’s only when he decides to stand with people that it becomes a little bit trickier. I mean, he stood with Conor (McGregor) so he gave Conor a chance, and I’m begging for him, ‘Go back to father’s plan. Go back to father’s plan.’ He screws with me all the time. He did the same with Michael Johnson. I’m telling him, ‘What are you doing? Go back to father’s plan.’ Father’s plan, that’s what I call ‘just wrestle the guy, take him down and wrestle him.’ And he does that all the damn time.”

One thing we’ve seen from Gaethje in his last two fights is that he’s willing to be patient and wait for his opportunity to capitalize with big strikes. If Nurmagomedov allows Gaethje to play that game, he could find himself on the losing end before he even has a chance to revert to ‘father’s plan.’

Tuesday Notebook

Speaking in Moscow today, Khabib Nurmagomedov said that he isn’t buying Conor McGregor’s retirement at all. “I don’t think he’s finished,” Nurmagomedov said. He added, “Conor acts like a jealous wife who says ‘I will leave’ all the time but then comes back.”

-Paulie Malignaggi went on “The MMA Hour” to lobby for a fight with Conor McGregor. “The show, the game, the flaunting, everything’s over. Because once I beat the shit out of you after all the past we’ve had and all the lies you’ve told, you’re done, you’re history. Nobody will ever want to remember you again. So you can’t have that. Not even his Proper whiskey would sell anymore.”

-Ray Borg told Luke Thomas on his Sirius XM radio show that he fell in the bathtub the night before weigh-ins last week to explain why he missed weight. “We were at the hospital ’til about 3 a.m.,” Borg said (via MMAJunkie). “They did a CAT scan, they did a little X-Ray to my wrist. I hit my wrist trying to catch the fall, and they said, ‘OK, well, you hurt your hand.’ And I said, ‘You know what, I’m not not showing up to this fight, I’m going to make it to this fight, so you know, I feel fine, I can fight.’ And the doctor said OK.”

-Leonardo Santos vs. Stevie Ray is booked for UFC Stockholm on June 1.

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ROUNDTABLE: Is Justin Gaethje ready for a lightweight title shot? (UPDATED)


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