UFC 254 will see Khabib Nurmagomedov look to retain his title against Justin Gaethje in a highly anticipated match up.
The American has improved considerably over the course of his professional career and could be about to provide the undefeated champion one of his most challenging fights to date.
Nurmagomedov has risen to the top of the lightweight division in an unprecedented fashion and won the title back in April 2018 when he defeated Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. The 31-year-old has since been unstoppable and has managed to defeat opponents such as Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier via a rear-naked choke submission hold in rounds four and three respectively.
Indeed, he has fought without much challenge through the UFC’s best 155-pound stars as he continues to execute flawless Octagon technique. He continues to be able to drag his opponents to the mat before producing some rather devastating combinations.
His footwork has also impressed many around the UFC as well in recent fights, as he has managed to provide some moves that boxers would be pretty pleased to accomplish themselves. The combination he produced in dropping McGregor at UFC 229, as well as his ability to outbox Iaquinta for the title at UFC 223 are moments that many remember.
The undefeated Eagle beat Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019 but has had to wait to return to the Octagon. He was supposed to headline UFC 249 in May but had to pull out due to the complications surrounding the COVID-19 lockdown. This bout will also be the first since his father passed away, which could provide an interesting sub-plot as there will be questions about how the fighter handles himself in the Octagon. Bettors could then get better odds if they do their research on CO sportsbook apps.
However, Gaethje will provide Nurmagomedov with a new challenge and one that is going to require his whole skillset on October 24. Gaethje stepped in at the last minute as a replacement for the Eagle at UFC 249 and claimed a superb win over Tony Ferguson, thus providing fans with this mouth-watering contest.
The American made the switch to the UFC in 2017 and was known for his particular brash fighting style. His style had managed to keep him undefeated in the WSOF, and has earned him recognition as one of the most talented 155-pound wrestlers.
But UFC fans are yet to witness too much of these skills, as Gaethje has kept fights limited to him being on his feet. He has opted to keep his opponents within Boxing range and has used his ability to keep up a fast pace to his advantage as many of his foes have been unable to keep up with him. When they do, Gaethje displays an extremely high level of agility as he is able to dodge the hits that are coming and can defend the takedowns that opponents have tried to force.
What can we expect?
With Nurmagomedov’s fighting style, it is possible that we will finally get to see the wrestling ability that Gaethje has as both men could look to go down to the mat as soon as possible. However, if the champion can get on top and early, it could be a hugely long night for the challenger.
Of course, Gaethje will feel as though he may have an advantage if he can keep the fight standing up-right for as long as possible. If he does this, the more likely he will be able to inflict damage to Nurmagomedov unlike any other opponent has been able to, as he will be able to strike at the head, body and legs.
If this happens, Nurmagomedov might just actually feel some pain from this fight and come away with a completely different experience to any other he has felt before, however it would be wise to predict that he walks out still undefeated at UFC 254.