Khabib Nurmagomedov will face the 'toughest test' of his unbeaten career if Justin Gaethje can stop his takedowns, according to the Russian's coach.
Javier Mendez has been preparing the champion for his UFC 254 showdown with Gaethje on October 24 and is under no illusion about the scale of the task.
Khabib has mauled all comers and nobody has been able to stop his relentless, suffocating pressure on the mat.
Javier Mendez (left) believes Khabib Nurmagomedov could face his toughest test at UFC 254
But Gaethje has been wrestling since he was a child and has a superb defensive skillset to keep the fight standing, exactly where he wants it to be.
'If Justin can deal with the wrestling then he will definitely be our toughest test,' Mendez told the Sun.
'What he brings is division-one wrestling credentials.
'He's a great leg kicker, he's the greatest leg kicker that I've seen in all the UFC fighters that I've watched. This is MMA, and Khabib has been training for MMA, not grappling.'
Justin Gaethje has strong defensive wrestling, a must in any fight against Khabib
Khabib's striking is underrated and he knocked down Conor McGregor with a flash right hand in their fight two years ago.
Mendez believes the Dagestani should not be written off if his clash with Gaethje does in fact remain a battle on the feet.
'If they can stop his biggest weapon, which is his grappling, then we're going to have to resort to our striking, which Khabib is capable of doing to anybody,' he added.
'He's better than when he fought Conor in the stand up, so he's able to adapt to whatever.'
Khabib is a strong favourite with bookmakers at around 3/10 but given Gaethje's wrestling pedigree combined with a career-best performance against Tony Ferguson in May, the Fight Island main event is teed up to be a classic contest.
The champion is 28-0 and the bookmakers have him as favourite to extend the winning record
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Khabib facing 'toughest test' of his career at UFC 254 if Gaethje 'can deal with wrestling' and force champ to strike