Home / World News / UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov strips naked to make weight ahead of Abu Dhabi bout with Justin Gaethje

UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov strips naked to make weight ahead of Abu Dhabi bout with Justin Gaethje

An exhausted looking Khabib Nurmagomedov has made weight, only after stripping naked for today’s UFC weigh in.

Nurmagomedov, who weighed in first and was left standing naked behind a towel, was clearly relieved to see he made the 155 pound (70.3kg) limit for his much-anticipated bout with Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje, who has put his interim belt on the line for the UFC254 bout, weighed in bang on the money minutes later.

Although Nurmagomedov hasn’t been inside the UFC octagon in 13 months, the life and mind of the unbeaten lightweight champion have been fully occupied.

He was scheduled to take on Tony Ferguson in April in the culmination of their epic fighting feud, but he couldn’t get out of Russia due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nurmagomedov then endured the tragic loss of his father and lifelong coach, Abdulmanap, in July to a heart problem exacerbated by COVID-19.

Although he kept his grief mostly private, Nurmagomedov reportedly returned to training only a week after the death of his beloved father. He returns to the cage on Saturday night to face interim champion Gaethje in the main event of UFC254 in Abu Dhabi.

“Of course, it’s a little bit difficult when you have so much pressure on your shoulders,” Nurmagomedov said. “But it’s never easy.”

Nurmagomedov (28-0) achieved superstar status in 2018 by stopping Conor McGregor, and he gained worldwide notoriety a few seconds later by jumping out of the cage to fight members of McGregor’s entourage. Known mostly for his wrestling-based dominance before that raucous night in Las Vegas, Nurmagomedov’s bravado caught millions of fans’ attention, while his vocal Muslim faith endeared him to millions more sports fans not often reached by mixed martial arts.

“I know he’s ultimately confident in what he does,” Gaethje said. “He’s done it 28 times. I expect him to believe that’s going to happen again. (But) I’m a performer. I always show up under the lights. I’ve been doing this as long as he has. It’s ingrained in us. I’m going to give everything I have and be proud of my performance.”

The UFC’s ninth show in the United Arab Emirates over the past 15 weeks is headlined by the single most anticipated bout in recent months, and Nurmagomedov’s global celebrity ensures it will be widely seen.

Australia’s former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker takes on Jared Cannonier in the co-main event after heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Walt Harris.

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