Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje will meet for the UFC lightweight title in Abu Dhabi on Saturday at UFC 254.
Fight Island plays host to yet another monster title match-up, which is live on talkSPORT, and while The Russian enters this scrap at 28-0, many believe Gaethje is the man with the best chance of beating him.
The pair came face-to-face for their pre-fight press conference on the beach where the challenger made it clear his eyes are on the prize.
By initially replacing Khabib for his title fight with Tony Ferguson in May, Gaethje won the interim belt and in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, made it clear he sees it as meaningless.
But who will walk away with the real gold?
Ben Askren (former UFC welterweight)
I think it’s fascinating. I’m very curious to see what happens. I think Justin’s very clearly the best wrestler that Khabib has fought for a very long time and then number two on that is he hits really hard and he kicks really hard!
Everything he does is hard and I’m very curious to see how that plays out. I think he has a good chance to beat him and if Khabib can Khabib him, I’ll be very impressed.
Jan Blachowicz (UFC light-heavyweight champion)
Khabib is going to win this fight. Second or third round [via] ground and pound or submission. This is what I see when I think about this fight.
Robert Whittaker (Former UFC middleweight champion)
Khabib’s fighting style and prowess – everyone knows what he’s going to do! Everyone know, and no one can stop him. There’s no secret. He doesn’t come into fights with a new game plan.
It doesn’t matter, because he just knows he’s going to take you down and bat the s*** out of you. And that’s it. Every fight, same game plan, same layout. He knows. It’s amazing to have that sort of level in anything in the game.
There have been very high level guys in the game across the history with those sort skill sets and eventually, people begin to figure them out and it becomes hard for them to get their gameplan off anymore. Not with Khabib.
His gameplan works no matter what and that’s amazing considering the level that he’s at. Amazing. I don’t see Khabib losing. I don’t see him losing ever. The only way you could get close to Khabib is fighting fire with fire, but even then, how do you outwrestle Khabib?
Chael Sonnen (former UFC light-heavyweight title contender)
I would predict that Khabib is going to win but it is a very interesting match. Khabib wins every fight the same. He throws you down and bludgeons you, but Justin Gaethje has never been held down and bludgeoned and he also knows how to scramble and get back up to his feet.
These guys that Khabib has held down, they’re not wrestlers, they’re ju-jitsu guys. I don’t know if Gaethje has been refining those skills over the years, but I can tell you Gaethje in college would not get taken down and held down by Khabib.
I know that Gaethje is working out everyday with [UFC middleweight champion] Kamaru Usman who is a fantastic wrestler and I would trust that would help him.
I also don’t buy into the theory that Khabib has to take you down. History tells us he will take you down, but he’s stood up a few times when he’s had too or struggled to get guys down and done well.
He put Conor McGregor down in a way that Floyd Mayweather couldn’t. He couldn’t get Al Iaquinta down and that turned into a straight-up boxing contest. Khabib outstruck Iaquinta.
Daniel Cormier (former UFC light-heavyweight and heavyweight double champion)
I think he’s going to fight his toughest opponent. I think the vast majority of the world feels as though this is the toughest guy for him at 155 [pounds]. I think he’ll be okay.
His ability to train and prepare for this and continue to work toward the goal that him and his father had together will allow for him to maybe come to terms with everything that’s happening around him.
Sometimes you need distraction and you need motivation in different forms. I think Khabib will use [his father’s death] as motivation. He’s a professional. He’s a pro’s pro and he’s going to prepare himself to the best of his ability.
Paul Felder (UFC lightweight)
That wrestling, right? I think whoever is going to give Khabib the biggest challenge and really be able to maybe win has to have really solid wrestling.
And, if Justin wanted to, which we all know he won’t, but if he wanted to and he wanted to score takedowns, I think he could. And wouldn’t that flip everything on it’s head if he just came out and shot double legs on Khabib? But, he’s not going to [laughs].
Michael Chandler (new UFC lightweight)
If Justin Gaethje shows up like he did against Tony Ferguson, he’s putting himself in the best situation possible to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But, if you’re a betting man, you never bet against Khabib. I don’t think Gaethje is the man to do it and I don’t say that to prop up my name or my skill set, but I think I’m the only one with the tools to beat Khabib.
I think it’ll be a less dominant unanimous decision than we’re used to seeing with Khabib, but it’ll be a unanimous decision nonetheless.
Dustin Poirier (former UFC lightweight interim champion)
[Gaethje’s] definitely a decorated, accomplished wrestler for sure, but Khabib’s style is different, it’s not a collegiate style.
If Gaethje can stay off the fence, I think Khabib will have a really tough time taking him down in the open, if Khabib gets him against the fence I think Khabib will do what Khabib does.
But, if it stays in the open, Gaethje will give him some problems.
Anthony Smith (former UFC light-heavyweight title challenger)
I just got this Gaethje feeling. Nobody is unbeatable, but Khabib is about as close as you’re going to get. If you were going to build a human with the tools to beat someone like Khabib, you would name him Justin Gaethje!
His wrestling is good, his footwork is good, his leg kicks can fly because Khabib isn’t really a single or double leg kind of guy, it’s all chain wrestling meant to get to the clinch against the fence.
If Gaethje can keep it in the middle, he can sit down on those punches and land those leg kicks.
Everyone knows to beat Khabib you’ve got to stay off your back, it’s just no one has been able to do it! If Gaethje can’t do it, I don’t know who can.
Eddie Alvarez (former UFC lightweight champion)
I just can’t picture Khabib not taking him down. That match-up, them two on the ground, there’s such a large gap when it comes to Khabib’s ground and Justin’s ground that I don’t feel Justin has the time to make up.
I don’t think Gaethje has enough movement to stop the takedown. When the fight does down on the ground, that’s why I’ll go with Khabib.
talkSPORT will bring you live and exclusive coverage of UFC 254 this Saturday. Listen on talkSPORT.com from 7pm, while coverage will get under way on talkSPORT 2 from 8pm