During their championship match at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje made light of his opponent’s jet lag.
The Dagestani was surprised to find that his opponent was coming from America with just a week to get used to the desert air. Khabib asked Gaethje whether he was experiencing jet lag during those two minutes in what has become a signature in cage trash talk. The American argued that he was alright. However, Nurmagomedov thinks it is impossible to be in peak condition for a weight cut and compete with just one week to prepare for Abu Dhabi.
According to Nurmagomedov on The Muslim Money Guys podcast,
“When I fought with Justin Gaethje I was following when he was going to come here. It said he would come here Saturday and then fight next Saturday, I was like ‘no, next Saturday is going to be worse for him’. During the fight I was talking to him and I tell him ‘brother, jet lag?’ and he went ‘no, no, no jet lag’. But I knew, he felt it.”
Prior to Max Holloway’s victory against Calvin Kattar at the Etihad Arena, UFC President Dana White confirmed this rumor. He told reporters at a press conference that he had heard a similar account.
White claimed the following in regards to Khabib last year:
“I was with Khabib last night and he was telling me, and I didn’t know this, maybe you guys did, all the stuff that him and Gaethje were talking about during their fight.”
“Gaethje hit him with a couple of shots and he thought Gaethje looked kind of weird so he pointed at him and said ‘you have jet lag’ in the middle of the fight. Gaethje said ‘no, I don’t’ and hit him with an uppercut and a left-hook, then Khabib said something to him again and he leg kicked him.”
This weekend, Nurmagomedov will be in the opponent’s corner as his friend Islam Makhachev tries to snatch the title from Charles Oliveira. He was also enthusiastic about the squad showing there early to acclimate since he had experienced the harsh circumstances throughout his professional matches with Dustin Poirier and Gaethje.
Khabib recalled: “First time we came here when I was preparing for the Dustin Poirier fight it was like the beginning of August because the fight was the beginning of September.”
“Here is very crazy weather, if you want to fight, make weight, recover and not feel jet lag, you have to be here 30 days. All the time when we fight here in Abu Dhabi we have to get here a month before because jet lag is crazy.”
“A lot of people under-estimate this. For example, if you fight in Mexico City it is more than 3,000-metres [above] the sea, but we’re from mountains so we can go to Mexico and fight, it’s easy.”
“But because we’re from the mountain, for us it’s very hard to deal with dessert weather. Over time I came here and we had at least two weeks of jet lag. For all of us, not only for me everybody is complaining about the air and the jet lag and saying they cannot sleep.”