UFC 254 Preview & Predictions: Khabib Nurmagomedov Stamps Authority with Justin Gaethje Submission
Justin Gaethje will become the latest combatant to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC lightweight throne at UFC 254, but one of the heaviest hitters in the sport faces a tough test keeping up with “The Eagle.”
Undefeated Nurmagomedov (28-0) has formed a habit in defeating fighters who were supposedly superior strikers, routinely matching those talents before asserting his dominance in the ground game.
Interim lightweight champion Gaethje (22-2) has finished his last four opponents via KO or TKO, earning his shot at the title with a fifth-round stoppage of Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in May:
Khabib hasn’t fought since September 2019, but there’s rarely a moment the Dagestan native can’s be considered ‘fight ready’.
Nurmagomedov is a -360 favorite with William Hill New Jersey, strongly tipped to clinch his 29th straight career victory at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi. Gaethje is the +280 underdog and has a puncher’s chance to say the least—powerful punches that they are—but the balance boasted by his upcoming opponent leaves too many openings for The Eagle to exploit.
UFC 254 Info
Date: Saturday, October 24
Venue: Flash Forum, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Early Prelims: 10:15 a.m. ET (3:15 p.m. BST)
Prelims: 12 p.m. ET (5 p.m. BST)
Main Card: 2 p.m. ET (7 p.m. BST)
Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje Moneyline Odds
Khabib Nurmagomedov: -360
Justin Gaethje: +280
Prediction: Gaethje v Nurmagomedov – Khabib via submission (+188)
The tale of the tape tells a story of a grappler taking on a striker, even though former NCAA Division I wrestler Gaethje is no slouch should things move to the ground.
That being said, “The Highlight” has to make the early rounds count before stamina becomes too much of a factor considering Nurmagomedov has a propensity to drown his foes in the latter stages.
Gaethje draws major interest at +350 to win via KO/TKO with William Hill—his only realistic chance of winning the belt on paper—but there’s no getting away from the idea Khabib will take things to the floor at some point.
Nurmagomedov is +188 to claim a submission victory in his third lightweight title defence, and his pragmatic approach should see him stick to his strengths in what looks the biggest threat to his perfect record to date.