Khabib Nurmagomedov recently caused a stir on social media after he directly addressed his former opponent’s wishes.
At UFC 268, former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje rebounded from a loss to Nurmagomedov by defeating Michael Chandler via unanimous decision. Gaethje felt he was due for a title shot after the win, but Nurmagomedov felt that chance belongs to Islam Makhachev and relayed his message on social media. “Just shut up and admit that Islam deserves this title shot, not you,” Nurmagomedov wrote on social media.
The message left some wondering if it was Nurmagomedov or his manager Ali Abdelaziz who wrote the statement, but the former champion confirmed he was the one who sent the message.
“It was myself,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “It was not Ali, 100 percent. Even if it was Ali, like Ali is never going to write something like that to Justin Gaethje. I know they have good relationship, like many years, like maybe like seven or eight years. These guys are like very good friends, you know?”
Nurmagomedov’s teammate, Makhachev, defeated Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 267, making it nine straight wins in one of the toughest divisions in the sport. He is now set to face Beneil Dariush in February, looking to make his case for a title shot undeniable – but Nurmagomedov believes a tenth win is unnecessary.
Now that we know for certain who was behind the statement, why did Nurmagomedov take such a firm stance with someone like Gaethje, for who he has a great deal of respect in the sport?
The former champion described his position, clarifying he has no ill will towards his former opponent. Nurmagomedov also explained how Gaethje helped with a weight cut in the past, reiterating the amount of respect they have for one another.
“I just shared with him my opinion,” Nurmagomedov said. “my opinion Islam deserves this, you know? Of course, I understand that Justin is very exciting. Justin is like, he’s a real highlight. He’s a real highlight. But it’s my opinion.
“I think like anybody in UFC right now, doesn’t matter lightweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight, any weight classes – if you have nine (fight) win streak, you have to fight for the title.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov describes why he told Justin Gaethje to ‘shut up’ about UFC title shot