Khabib Nurmagomedov made light work of Justin Gaethje once he got ahold of his opponent and dragged him to the mat at UFC 254, finishing the former NCAA Division I wrestler with a vicious triangle choke in the second round of their headlining lightweight title unification bout.
Nurmagomedov’s manhandling of Gaethje, who was touted as his most dangerous opponent to date, shows just how well Conor McGregor fought against Khabib at UFC 229 and how good of a fighter ‘The Notorious’ is.
That’s according to UFC Hall of Famer Rashad Evans, who believes McGregor deserves more credit for putting up somewhat of a fight against the undefeated Dagestani. McGregor, 32, was submitted in the fourth round but demonstrated more resilience than Gaethje and — somewhat surprisingly — a superior ground game.
“What Conor McGregor showed me after what Khabib did to Justin Gaethje, he showed me that he is one of the best to do it!” Evans, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, said in a recent appearance on Morning Kombat (via Middle Easy). “That’s what he showed me. Listen, I don’t like to give Conor McGregor props because Conor can be crazy sometimes. But you’ve gotta give props where props is due.”
“What Conor did in that fight with Khabib, in hindsight based off what Khabib has done to everyone else, he shows that he is one of the best to do it in the weight class,” Evans explained. “That’s the thing about it. To be able see what Khabib did to Justin Gaethje, a guy that wrestled his whole entire life, and make short work of him in the grappling aspect, and to see Conor McGregor taken down multiple times, but not only taken down but got up. He made it hard for Khabib to hold him down, and that’s something people just don’t do with Khabib.
“Once you get taken down once it’s a wrap because even if you do get back up to your feet you are a different fighter when you get back up to your feet. That wasn’t the case with Conor. He kept getting back up, and he even won a round once he had been taken down a couple times. So that should show a lot of people just how good Conor McGregor is.”
McGregor rebounded from his loss to Khabib with a stunning 40-second TKO of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 and is expected to return to the octagon to fight Dustin Poirier in January.