To this day, many pundits still believe that the first man to ever defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov made himself known as early as the Russian’s second Octagon appearance. This would be none other than seasoned veteran Gleison Tibau, who fought the ‘Eagle’ to a close unanimous decision loss, back at UFC 148, in July 2012.
Now, as Nurmagomedov approaches his third title bout as the UFC’s lightweight champion against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, Tibau decided to share his insight on the fight. In an interview with Ag Fight, the Brazilian pointed how takedown defense will is the key to hand Khabib his first ever professional loss.
“It’s all about how well your style matches up with his. He’s strong, he puts on an absurd amount of pressure and he has good wrestling. He’s been dominating everyone and never has a hard outing.
“Our fight was pretty close, many think that I won,” he said. “I scored more points, I took him down a few times and he never took me down. I connected some shots, too. I’ve always been one of the strongest fighters in the division, but when I fought him, I could tell he was a monster. It was like I was fighting a heavyweight. Absurd pressure.”
“I’m one of the guys with the best takedown defense in MMA.” Tibau continued. “That’s the secret to beat Khabib. In order to handle his pressure, you need to have good wrestling and takedown defense. If you can stop his takedowns, it gets easier. Nowadays, I think my boxing would be good enough to knock him out.”
In his last outing, Tibau (35-14) tapped out former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks, back in July 2019. The win put the Brazilian on a two-fight winning streak, with a unanimous decision victory over UFC vet Efrain Escudero before the Brooks bout. The 37-year-old’s last loss happened in his last Octagon fight, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Desmond Green, in June 2018.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is expected to take on interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on October 24.