Coach: Justin Gaethje Was 'Biggest Threat' to Islam Makhachev’s Title Reign

UFC
April 30, 2024
American Kickboxing Academy coach Javier Mendez believes the biggest threat to Islam Makhachev’s lightweight title reign is gone.

Mendez considered Justin Gaethje to be the biggest threat to Makhachev. With Gaethje’s wild striking, proven knockout power and NCAA Division I wrestling background, Mendez considered “The Highlight” the toughest stylistic matchup for Makhachev at lightweight.

Untill recently, Makhachev was expecting to defend his lightweight belt against Gaethje, who had essentially earned himself a title shot with a knockout win over Dustin Poirier. However, Makhachev would only be ready to fight in the summer after Ramadan, leaving Gaethje in an awkward position. In the meantime, Gaethje accepted a UFC 300 clash against Max Holloway with his BMF title on the line. Holloway put an absolute beating on Gaethje before knocking him out in the fifth round, removing “The Highlight” from the title picture for the meantime.

Mendez now believes that Makhachev and Gaethje are unlikely to ever cross paths in the UFC.

“For me, the guy out of all I guys that I thought was for us, stylistically was very dangerous out of all of them — I thought it was Justin Gaethje,” Mendez said on his podcast. “Stylistically, because of his wrestling pedigree and his striking is really good, strong. And it’s all apples and oranges, right, because everybody brings different skillset. So I thought he was the biggest threat for us, and now he’s probably never gonna be in the picture for us going forward. No need to talk about [does he] pose a threat because he’s never gonna be there.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Coach-Justin-Gaethje-Was-Biggest-Threat-to-Islam-Makhachevs-Title-Reign-193505

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