Former lightweight champion Nurmagomedov’s final fight of his career was against Gaethje in October 2020 at UFC 254. Nurmagomedov submitted Gaethje in Round 2 to retain his belt before announcing his retirement.
Nurmagomedov has fought the likes of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, but he named Gaethje (25-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) as the hardest hitter. But “The Eagle” insists he was barely fazed when Gaethje connected.
“I think it was Justin Gaethje,” Nurmagomedov said on the PBD Podcast. “He hits like truck, but it was one thing what breaks him, like when he hit me, I remember it was right uppercut and left hook. It was his best shot in the fight and I told him, ‘Brother, this is everything that you have?’ I was talking with him. It was conversation inside the cage.
“I like Justin Gaethje, and I was talking with him after this combination, and I told him, ‘This is everything that you have?’ And end of the first round, he started to like tire, and I told him, ‘This is jetlag because you come to Abu Dhabi one week before the fight. I’m here one month.’ I know where I was after one week because this is like desert. You have to be there at least a couple of weeks before the fight. I know myself, one week when I come, I cannot sleep.”
Gaethje is fresh off perhaps the biggest knockout of his career – a head-kick finish of Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 to claim the “BMF” title. “The Highlight” also has stopped the likes of Michael Johnson, Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and Tony Ferguson with strikes.