Founder and president of Dominance MMA Management Ali Abdelaziz got candid over the relationship between UFC 254 main event fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. Abdelaziz’s company represents the duo. He has interests on both ends and would be in a fix if anyone required him to pick either the champion or the interim champion.
He sat down with Dave Schmulenson and Helen Yee on The Schmozone Podcast and opened up on an incident that led to mutual respect between the two fighters.
Ali Abdelaziz said, “Khabib is my brother. I love him to death. Justin is one of the most loyal dudes I have managed him since the beginning. Khabib said a story. When Khabib fought in Florida, when he was coming back from an injury against Darrell Horcher, I brought Justin Gaethje to Florida and he helped Khabib cut weight. That’s how long they have known each other. He helped Khabib cut weight and even Khabib mentioned it.”
Abdelaziz added, “In a way, we have this media day hype…But everybody understands. Everybody has respect. Everyone’s going to respect each other and it’s a family. Some of these guys need to fight and they’re going to have to fight each other.”
The fight Ali Abdelaziz is talking about went down back in 2016 when ‘The Eagle’ was coming back after a long drawn injury. Justin Gaethje was called upon to help the current lightweight champion cut weight and make sure he was in the perfect shape for the fight.
Now, the duo will face each other on October 24. Gaethje is the interim lightweight champion after his win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. The fight was initially set up to have Nurmagomedov defend against Ferguson. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic restrictions, it fell through. Hence, ‘The Highlight’ capitalized on the opportunity and earned the biggest fight of his career.
Looking forward to UFC 254, who do you think will walk out with the unified title?
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