Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje had a mutual respect for one another in the buildup to UFC 254, but that all changed on fight night.
According to UFC president Dana White, Nurmagomedov started talking — and taunting — Gaethje during their fight, telling ‘The Highlight’ that he was suffering from jetlag and that he was finished once the fight hit the ground.
“Khabib was telling me this when I was with him last night, and I didn’t know this, maybe you guys knew this but all the stuff that him and Gaethje were talking about during that fight,” White said during the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference (h/t Damon Martin of MMA Fighting). “He told me last night that he’s never been hit or kicked harder ever in a fight than by Gaethje.
“Gaethje hit him with a couple of shots and then he thought Gaethje looked kind of weird and he pointed at him and said ‘you have jetlag’ in the middle of the fight. Gaethje said ‘no, I don’t’ and hit him with an uppercut and a left hook, he said.”
“Khabib said something to him again and he leg kicked him,” White said. “Then I guess when Khabib took him down and was on top of him, he said ‘now what are you going to do?’”
The fight ended shortly after that, with Nurmagomedov submitting Gaethje with a triangle choke in the second round to retain his lightweight title.
Khabib had also exchanged words with Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson while pummelling both men from top position, but White is surprised ‘The Eagle’ was able to hold any conversation with Gaethje at all due to the frenetic pace of the contest.
“He’s telling me all this sh*t that those two were talking about during the fight,” White said. “First of all, the fight didn’t even go that long. I don’t know how they would have that much of a conversation!”
Khabib announced his retirement in the post-fight interview but White believes he can convince the former UFC lightweight champion to make a comeback for his 30th professional fight, where he would likely face the winner of Poirier-McGregor II at UFC 257.