Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘deliberately finished Justin Gaethje quickly rather than extend the punishment as he had done with Conor McGregor’, insists the Russian’s coach.
Javier Mendez has made the remarkable claim that his fighter showed mercy on his UFC 254 challenger as he had respect for Gaethje.
Both Mendez and Daniel Cormier have said Khabib veered away from the armbar as he did not want to hurt Gaethje in front of his watching parents on Fight Island at the weekend.
Khabib Nurmagomedov allowed the Conor McGregor fight to drag on, insists his coach
But Javier Mendez says the Russian showed mercy on Justin Gaethje by ending it quickly
And the American Kickboxing Academy coach went further, telling the Sun: ‘I gather Khabib likes Justin a lot because he finished him sooner than he would’ve with most people. He likes to punish people a bit, ground and pound them.
‘But Justin’s parents were there and he knew Justin wouldn’t tap and he didn’t want to break his arm in front of his parents.
‘Khabib purposely let Conor go longer, he purposely stood with him, he wanted to punish him.
‘Just because Conor went four rounds it doesn’t mean Khabib had a tougher time trying to finish him – Khabib wanted to punish Conor, he didn’t want to do that with Justin.’
Khabib, who emotionally announced his retirement after the fight having reached 29-0, will be remembered for his last three fights especially.
The submission win over McGregor came after a toxic build-up to their fight in 2018 and Mendez’s claim that Khabib was so driven to punish McGregor that he allowed the fight to last longer, is a fascinating one.
During the fight itself the Russian repeatedly spoke to his opponent while landing huge blows on the ground.
At one point McGregor even reasoned, ‘It is just business’, but Khabib was not satisfied even after the win and sparked a mass brawl by jumping over the cage to attack the Dubliner’s team-mate Dillon Danis.
The build-up to the Gaethje fight was far more respectful and the Dagestani clearly appreciated his opponent’s sportsmanship.
He walks away from the sport as the pound-for-pound No 1 and banked £4.6million plus bonuses and a share of the pay-per-view takings.
Mendez previously hinted that the retirement was an emotional decision and opened the door for the lightweight champion to return.
But the 32-year-old was adamant he will now hang up the gloves after promising his mother he would no longer fight on without late father Abdulmanap to guide him.
Khabib landed back in Russia with his entourage and declared mission accomplished
After touching back down in Russia, Khabib said: ‘Mission accomplished. What else is there to do? Make money? I’ll always be able to do that.
‘Everyone reacts differently. Of course Dana [White] wants me to continue fighting and generate revenue.
‘I can make money myself. I’m at the peak of my career but I made this decision and I think this is the best time for me to make it.
‘Not everyone can retire at their peak but I know that in a year, two or five, I’d have to face that decision again. I did enough in the sport to be considered the best.’
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