This one has blockbuster written all over it.
Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown against interim titleholder Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event on Saturday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The result of their encounter in perhaps the most anticipated fight of 2020 figures to shape the 155-pound weight class for the foreseeable future.
Nurmagomedov carries a perfect 28-0 record into the cage. The American Kickboxing Academy standout has not competed since he submitted Dustin Poirier with a third-round rear-naked choke at UFC 242 in September 2019. Victories over Conor McGregor, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza and Rafael dos Anjos anchor the Nurmagomedov resume, which features 18 finishes: 10 by submission and eight more by knockout or technical knockout.
Gaethje, meanwhile, finds himself on a four-fight winning streak. The former World Series of Fighting champion cemented himself as the lightweight division’s No. 1 contender on May 9, when he put away Tony Ferguson with punches in the fifth round of their UFC 249 headliner. Gaethje has delivered 20 of his 22 career victories via stoppage, putting together a list of victims that includes the aforementioned Barboza, Donald Cerrone, James Vick and Michael Johnson.
UFC 254 “Khabib vs. Gaethje”—which streams live to ESPN+ pay-per-view at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT—will also feature a heavyweight showcase matching Alexander Volkov with Walt Harris, a women’s flyweight encounter pitting Lauren Murphy against Liliya Shakirova, a light heavyweight rematch slotting Magomed Ankalaev opposite Ion Cutelaba and a pair of middleweight confrontations, as Robert Whittaker meets Jared Cannonier in the co-main event and Phil Hawes makes his Octagon debut against the unbeaten but untested Jacob Malkoun. ESPN2 (12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT) and UFC Fight Pass (11 a.m. PT/8 a.m. PT) will share coverage of the six-fight undercard, anchored by a heavyweight scrap between Stefan Struve and Tai Tuivasa.
A closer look at the UFC 254 “Khabib vs. Gaethje” particulars:
THE LINEUP155: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
185: Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier
265: Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris
185: Phil Hawes vs. Jacob Malkoun
125: Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova
205: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba
265: Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa
170: Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
205: Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey
140: Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney
125: Miranda Maverick vs. Liana Jojua
155: Joel Alvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev
THE RUNDOWN• Preview: The Main Card
• Preview: The Prelims
• Weigh-in Report
• By The Numbers: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje
• By The Numbers: Whittaker vs. Cannonier
• The Big Picture: If Nurmagomedov Ever Loses, It Will Be at UFC 254
• The Bottom Line: The Ultimate Battle of Wills
• Prime Picks
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