The much anticipated UFC lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje takes place Saturday at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Nurmagomedov captured the vacant lightweight crown in April 2018 when he defeated Al Iaquinta by decision. Iaquinta was a last-minute replacement for Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov’s first defense of his title took place in October 2018. Nurmagomedov submitted former champion Conor McGregor by neck crank in the fourth round of that contest. After the win, the lightweight kingpin jumped into the crowd to confront one of McGregor’s coaches. While that happened on the floor of the T-Mobile Arena, McGregor engaged with a couple of Nurmagomedov’s teammates inside the cage. The Nevada State Athletic Commission handed both fighters suspensions. When Nurmagomedov returned to action, he defeated Dustin Poirier by third-round submission. That fight took place in September 2019. Nurmagomedov has a career record of 28-0.
Gaethje was the long-time World Series of Fighting lightweight champion before he signed with the UFC in 2017. Gaethje was 17-0. He went 1-2 in his first three fights with the UFC, but he has been unbeaten since August 2018. Gaethje captured the interim 155-title in May with a fifth-round TKO win over Tony Ferguson.
All seven of Gaethje’s UFC fights have ended via knockout. He has won at least one fight-night bonus in each of those outings.
In the co-main event, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker faces Jared Cannonier. With a win, Cannonier could punch his ticket to a matchup against current titleholder Israel Adesanya.
HOW TO WATCH OR LIVE STREAM UFC 254:
UFC 254 takes place on Saturday from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The event takes place much earlier than a normal UFC pay-per-view event. The ESPN+ streaming main card begins at 2:00 p.m ET. Following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at noon ET and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ at 11:00 a.m. ET.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier
Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris
Jacob Malkoun vs. Phil Hawes
Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cuțelaba
Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa
Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney
Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey
Early preliminary card
Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick
Joel Álvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Source: Forbes – Business