When he was called on to step in on short notice to fight Tony Ferguson at the original UFC 249 date on April 18th, Justin Gaethje was more than willing. But if the same situation were to happen against Khabib Nurmagomedov, “The Highlight” says he might not do the same.
“I don’t think I would have taken the fight against Khabib on short notice,” Gaethje told BT Sport (transcript by MMA Junkie).
“Matchup-wise, I think I have a much better chance of touching Tony’s chin than Khabib’s, in the first two, three rounds. In order to get taken down once or twice by Khabib, and work up, and still be able to fight, I really do need at least 10 weeks.
“You know I’ve been training my whole life but there’s certain lactic acid that builds up that you really have to account for,” he explained.
His Ferguson fight was eventually moved to May 9th, giving him a few more weeks to prepare. Gaethje, however, feels having that shorter time frame for training would’ve actually done better for him.
“No matter what, this is not perfect circumstances, but a fight is a fight. When it was on 14-days’ notice, that was much different than now, or 20-days’ notice,” he said. “Now I’ve had five weeks to train, it’s not what I’ve asked for, or wanted, but I do believe that before this I was in better shape.
“I didn’t let myself go. I was telling myself since the beginning of the year, I was gonna fight again and it was gonna be a big fight.”
UFC 249 happens this weekend at VyStar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.