UFC 254 preview: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje
Despite being held behind closed doors, the UFC’s recent events at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi have proved a hit with fight fans, and the upcoming UFC 254 will be no exception. In fact, the event, which will take place on October 24th, might just be the best one to date. The main card is jam-packed with mouth-watering bouts, including Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier and Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris. However, it is the headliner that will catch the eye. The main event will see the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov clash with BMF Justin Gaethje in a UFC Lightweight Championship unification bout.
With that said, let’s preview the main event. Read on to find out more!
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
Despite Gaethje being tipped as the mostly likely opponent to end The Eagle’s record 28-bout unbeaten streak, the Russian is still the 4/11 favourite in the latest Khabib vs Gaethje odds from Paddy Power.
But, there’s also a reason why so many believe Gaethje can end Khabib’s lengthy run of wins. The Highlight, who is on a four-fight unbeaten run, boasts an impressive record of his own, winning 22 of his 24 bouts, 19 of which have been via knockout, with just two defeats – which came back-to-back against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
Gaethje is one the best offensive fighters currently in the UFC. The American packs a massive punch, which can inflict a lot of damage on his opponents. Even Poirier, who beat Gaethje, compared going through the rounds to experiencing a car crash.
The Highlight, who can also absorb strikes just as well as he can inflict them, is confident ahead of the bout, telling reporters at the recent UFC 254 media day: “My confidence is probably my biggest factor right now paired with the power that I possess paired with the coach that I have,
“That’s a dangerous combination. And I don’t care if I win or lose at the end of the day. As long as I make my family happy, as long as I’m proud of my performance, then it doesn’t matter. That’s what makes me most dangerous. I don’t know if he’s fought somebody like that.”
On the other hand, Khabib likes to get his opponent onto the mat and force them into submission – which he has achieved in three of his last five fights – and, nothing is going to change, in terms of tactics for this fight.
“Nothing changes,” The Eagle said at the UFC 254 media day. “I’m going to try wrestling with him. If he’s going to defend my takedowns for a long time, I’m going to try second, third, I’m going to try 100 times.
“Of course, I’m going to box with him. I’m going to kick with him. It’s going to be kickboxing and wrestling mixed.”
Standing up, Khabib has probably never faced someone as powerful as Gaethje, but even more worrying for the Russian, The Highlight is also a decent grappler – even though it’s not his go-to method. In fact, Gaethje was the first wrestler from the University of Northern Colorado to land All-American honours.
If Gaethje can keep Khabib on his feet, then he has a great chance of inflicting greater pain on the Russian. But, if he is brought to the ground, he might need to find his inner wrestler to have a chance of victory.
One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a great fight!