The former lightweight champion undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov returned to the UFC 254 against the interim champion Justin Gaethje to defend his title. Khabib won by submission against Gaethje kicked off Saturday afternoon, 12:00 pm ET on October 24, and streamed exclusively on ESPN+ PPV. Here is everything you need to know about how to watch UFC 254 highlights, Khabib vs Gaethje start time, date, location, TV channel, and more guide.
2020 has been a wild year thus far full of bad things and unpleasant surprises. Yet, UFC has been a positive surprise and their events are still going on despite the pandemic. The biggest MMA promotion is back with yet another great pay-per-view card full of amazing fights. The UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje is set to break all the live streaming viewership records. The main event will see the return of, by many, the greatest fighter in the world, Khabib Nurmagomedov. He will put his lightweight belt on the line against the upcoming contender, Justin Gaethje.
And as we are about to see, this was the most important fight in the lightweight division history.
When was UFC 254?
UFC 254, a UFC lightweight championship bout was set on Saturday, October 24, 2020, at Flash Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Aurob Emirat. Khabib vs Gaethje faced off for the title fight.
Who was the headliner for UFC 254 event?
The current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje was the headliner for the main event of UFC 254.
What time did the UFC 254 main event actually start?
The UFC president Dana White addressed his plan for this fight that happened in the afternoon in the United States on October 24. The main event fight always started after the co-main card, the main event actually ring walked at 4:30 pm ET.
UFC 254: Background
Gaethje and Khabib don’t have a history of mutual conflicts, and the rivalry between these two almost doesn’t exist. But how they ended up as the UFC 254 main event is very interesting. Back in April, Khabib was set to defend his title against Tony Ferguson in the main event at UFC 249. But just weeks before the fight, the world got hit by the Covid-19. And Khabib was unable to leave Russia due to the restricted air travel.
This is where Justin decided to step in to save the show and face Tony Ferguson for the Interim UFC title belt. Both sides signed the contract and they faced each other on May 9, 2020, at UFC 249. Gathje went on to control the fight from start to finish and end Ferguson’s amazing 12 fight win streak in the fifth round. It was a huge upset and many people think he can do the same against Khabib.
But, to become the undisputed champ, Gaethje needs to unify the titles. The fight against Khabib was first set to serve as a headline at UFC253. But, the UFC decided to move it to UFC 254 due to the sudden death of Khabib’s father.
Khabib is the UFC lightweight champ and the best grappler in MMA history. There are no words to explain how dominant he was in all of his 28 fights thus far. I mean, he lost only one round in his career (against McGregor) and many believe he could have easily won that round as well. It takes special talent and skills to be 28-0 in MMA.
Against Gaethje, Khabib will put his perfect win streak and 155lbs title on the line. If he beats Justin, then there will be no more questions about who is the greatest lightweight fighter of all times.
Things you must know about Khabib:
- Hands down, Khabib is the best wrestler in the UFC. His style is relentless and he doesn’t stop until he takes you down. And it’s worth mentioning Khabib gets all his takedowns against the fence.
- Even though everyone knows his game plan, Khabib is not a predictable fighter. He is always setting up the takedown with the boxing and he never attacks with the same move twice.
- Khabib doesn’t have great standup skills. But, he has improved his striking a lot over the last few years and people need to respect his skills on the feet.
- Khabib has a nasty BJJ game and a very strong squeeze. He can get the tap even if the choke is not fully locked in as seen against Conor.
Khabib’s last performance against Dustin Poirier was amazing. He showed he is at the peak of his athletic and fighting prime. In our opinion, we are going to see the best version of Khabib against Gaethje.
Gaethje is the UFC Interim 155lbs champ and the most exciting fighter to watch. His fights always end up being brutal wars, and he is a true definition of a brawling fighter. Like Khabib, he too has an elite wrestling background. What’s more, many MMA pros and fans think his wrestling skills are good enough for him to stop Khabib’s takedowns.
Gaethje had a rough start to his UFC journey. But he is now a mature fighter who comes into the fight against Khabib on a five-fight winning streak. All of his five wins were brutal KOs, and he KO’d some big names like Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson.
Things you must know about Justin Gaethje:
- Gaethje has elite wrestling skills. He is the former NCAA Division I All-American and many people think he has the best takedown defense.
- Yet, it’s important to know that Gaethje never uses wrestling in MMA. For some reason, we never saw him shooting for a takedown.
- He has amazing Muay Thai skills and his kicks are out of this world. He only needs one to leg kick to land to compromise the movement of his rivals.
- Also, he has cardio for days and he is always fighting at a high pace. He likes to take his rivals into the deep waters until they can’t keep up with his pace.
- His boxing skills are very technical and he has a legit KO power in both of his hands.
UFC 254 Khabib vs. Gaethje: Fight Preview
It was one of the most important fights in the history of the division. And it also might be the toughest test in Khabib’s career thus far. For them, Khabib has never faced an MMA fighter that has such a strong takedown defense.
This is one of those matchups you simply don’t know-how will play out.
Who was a better striking?
Gaethje is by far the more superior striker in this matchup. He is one of the hardest strikers in the division and his Muay Thai skills are far above anything Khabib has to offer on the feet.
As said earlier, Gaethje has a very big gas tank that allows him to push a high pace fight and have a high output. He throws 7.8 strikers per minute on average which is a lot and he lands with amazing accuracy of 58%. These numbers are truly amazing. But, his defense is bad as he absorbs 8.4 strikes per minute on average, which is a lot. I mean, Gaethje has taken some serious damage in his previous fights.
On the other side, Khabib uses his striking just to set up the takedowns. Yet, he has a lot of power in his hands and he can catch you with one of those looping punches. Just recall how he dropped Conor with that famous overhand right punch. You see, his boxing is not so technical, but, it works for him.
Who had better grappling?
Without a doubt, Khabib is a far better grappler in this matchup. And, he also has a better submission arsenal than Gaethje. Even though Gaethje has elite wrestling skills, Khabib is just on another level.
The thing is, wrestling is Khabib’s main weapon and the reason why he is so dominant and successful. He has a takedown accuracy of 47% and he lands an amazing 5.35 takedowns per 15-minute fight.
He never attacks with the same move twice and his chain wrestling skills are insane. No matter what you do or how good your takedown defense is, Khabib will eventually expose all your cons.
Even though Gaethje never uses his wrestling, his takedown defense is arguably the best in the division. He has defended an amazing 80% of takedown attempts thus far. So, many people think his defense is good enough to stop Khabib’s attacks.
Who won and why?
As with every previous Khabib fight, this one too will come down to whether Gaethje can stop the takedowns and keep the fight standing. It is always that simple with Khabib but yet so complicated at the same time. But, we can smell the upset in the air.
We believe Gaethje has all the skills and athleticism to keep the fight standing and shock the world by beating Khabib. In his last couple of fights, he showed a lot of improvements in his game and he’s not reckless as he was in previous fights. In our opinion, he will have a perfect strategy on how to stop the takedowns or at least get back up.
It’s very hard to say Khabib will not be able to take someone down. But we are not sure how the sudden death of his father affected him. His father was also his main coach and the main source of motivation to fight.
As said earlier, 2020 has been a wild year and we have seen a lot of surprises.
How to watch UFC 254?
As said earlier, UFC 254 could break all the records in pay-per-view sales all around the world, but not happened. The preliminary action started around 12:00 PM CEST and highlights on UFC Fight Pass.
But, there is a much better option for all the UFC fans out there. ESPN offers a special ESPN+PPV bundle that includes the upcoming UFC event for $64.99 and one year of ESPN+ for $84.99. This is a very good deal and a way to go if you want to watch UFC 254.
What were the odds?
Khabib was a –275 favorite in this matchup. On the other side, the interim champ, Justin Gaethje had a +225 underdog in this matchup.