UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully made weight on Friday morning ahead of his world title defence against Justin Gaethje this weekend, but the Russian champion endured a tough weight cut.

Nurmagomedov tipped the scales within the championship weight limit of 155lbs early Friday in Abu Dhabi but the relief on the undefeated fighter’s face was plain to see after what was being reported as an extensive weight cut ahead of the world title fight with Justin Gaethje on Saturday. 

Khabib, who has had issues making weight in the past, was forced to weigh in behind a towel before appearing visibly relieved that the process was over and that he could now concentrate on the sole task of defending his title from the dangerous American on ‘Fight Island’.

But just how difficult was Khabib’s cut? According to TASS, Nurmagomedov cut 8.5kg (almost 19lbs) in the past few days in Abu Dhabi – including around 3kg (6.6lbs) on the morning of the weigh-in. 

This is a significant number but not something that the Russian will not have dealt with before in his career – as evidenced by Khabib being the first person to step on the scales as soon as the weigh-ins got underway.

“When you are champion you have to show great example. I want to be first in everything!” 😤”I really want to come to England… watch Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd.”@TeamKhabib was in good spirits when he spoke to @AdamCatterall immediately after weighing in 🙌

It was a hard night, like always,” Khabib told BT Sport of his weight cut. “When I’m cutting weight, it’s never going to be easy. Even if you cut a couple of pounds or you cut 20lbs, it’s going to be the same. Cutting weight is always hard.

When you’re champion you have to show great example, you know? I want to be first everywhere. Even if I do some push-ups with my teammates, when I go running through mountains, I want to be first always.”

So, if his weigh-in experience was essentially by the book, Khabib says that the fight will also follow the same script as his previous efforts in the cage.

Nothing changes,” he declared. “I just want to make this guy tired and finish him. This is my plan.”