Gaethje reflects on Khabib loss: 'I had him in trouble'
Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Justin Gaethje believes he put Khabib Nurmagomedov in danger during their lightweight title fight at Saturday's UFC 254.

"I had him in trouble," Gaethje said on the postfight show. "I wasn't very many kicks away from him not being able to walk. He's gonna be limping for at least the next three weeks. That's nothing to be proud of because I lost. But I felt alive and I felt great."

Gaethje attacked Nurmagomedov with leg kicks in the first round - which he won on two judges' scorecards - before his eventual submission in the second frame.

"I knew that if I was going to lose, I'm not scared to get choked out," Gaethje said. "Getting knocked out does suck because there's consequences health-wise to that. Getting choked out, you get a nice little dream, and it's on to the next one.

"It sucks. I'm hurt. It's emotional. But ultimately, it's just the name of the game, man."

Nurmagomedov is known for his overwhelming wrestling, but Gaethje thinks he was successful in keeping the Russian champion off him in the early moments.

"I knew he was gonna try to get me to the ground," Gaethje said. "I was very focused and I believe I did a great job of keeping the distance, controlling the distance, and causing damage. I caused damage in there."

The 31-year-old lost the interim lightweight title in his defeat to Nurmagomedov. He said he plans to work on his grappling defense moving forward.

"I have to be better on the bottom," Gaethje said. "I love striking so much, I love fighting so much, but to be the best in the world, you have to be great everywhere. (Nurmagomedov) is better than me in grappling right now.

"That's obviously where my focus needs to be right now."

Gaethje reflects on Khabib loss: 'I had him in trouble'
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