Ufc 254
Photo Credit: UFC

Match Preview: UFC 254 – Khabib vs Gaethje -10/24/2020



Another weekend is upon us, which means another night of fights is in order as the UFC gives us another card on Fight Island. This time, we will see two warriors battling for a shot at not only division supremacy, but to etch their names in history books.


“There can be only one” was a famous phrase by the movies/tv show Highlander. For UFC 254, the same applies as Interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje (22-2 19 KOs) looks to unify the belts and be the sole champion at 155lbs. Standing in his way is one of MMAs greatest fighters to step inside the octagon in champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0 8 KOs 10 SUBs).


UFC 254
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Khabib has done something that was thought to be impossible in MMA’s sport, let alone do it a dozen times in the world’s best portion, the UFC. Reaching 28 straight victories, 12 in the UFC, has been made to look easy by one of the sport’s most dominant fighters. Hailing from Dagestan, Russia, Khabib is one who has straightforward gameplay when entering the cage. SMASH. Wrestling a bear at 9 years old (there’s actual footage of this), Khabib has a decorated amateur wrestling career, including two Sambo world titles.

Taking the skills he learned under the tutelage of his late father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov (he passed over the summer due to complications from COVID-19), Khabib has made some of the best fighters in the world look like they didn’t belong in the same sport as him. Holding victories over former champion Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, etc. Most who face the Russian don’t leave looking the same, while Khabib looks like he could go another full fight.

His style and gameplay is a simple yet most effective one, come forward, take his opponents down, gain control of their body so they can’t escape, then apply power ground and pound shots. Khabib has a routine where he will utilize his strength and wrestling advantage for the first two rounds. Wear on his opponents, suck the energy out of them, push them to the point where all hope seems lost, and show that no matter what wrestling partner or coaches they brought into training camp, they don’t have an answer for The Eagle.

Then, in the third, Khabib will do some standup as he has already made you fearful of another takedown, so you keep your hands low. The threat is at the front of your mind, all while trying to gasp for air. This is where Khabib will show off his ever-improving standup striking. But then come to the fourth and fifth rounds, it’s back to the mat you go. This is if he doesn’t make you tap out first. Not the most sophisticated plan, but given his high-level skills that are clearly head and shoulders if not waist above most fighters, he can keep it simple and dominate his foe, which has helped him reach an incredible record.



UFC 254
Photo Credit: DraftKings

Looking to be the one to crack the code, solve the puzzle, and provide Superman’s krypton night, Justin Gaethje provides a challenge the champion has not seen before and is looking to be the man who beats the man. Also, having a wrestling background, Gaethje has found his success in the sport to come from landing bombs and putting folks to sleep, as shown by 19 of his 22 career wins coming via KO/TKO. Interestingly, like Khabib, Gaethje himself has simple yet effective gameplay as well.

Come forward as a terminator, throw heavy lefts and rights, land stiff leg kicks, take an absurd amount of punishment in return and overwhelm your opponent until he can no longer stand toe to toe with you.

Nicknamed The Highlight due to his fighting style, he’s willing to take two punches to give one. But his one usually does the most damage. This style is due to his wrestling base, which gives him confidence in knowing he can keep the fight standing, and if he wants to take his foe down, he can. So far in the UFC, he is 5-2, with all 7 of his bouts earning him either Performance of the Night and/or Fight of the Night bonuses.



UFC 254
Photo Credit: MMA Fighting

The gameplan for both may seem simple, but in watching their fights, you see there’s a method to the madness. A few things you can take away from their styles, 1) Both inflict their will on their opponents at a rate most have not been able to withstand. 2) While their styles may be simple, it also shows that if you master your craft, you become one tough outing for anyone. 3) Both have shown they can keep up their pace of fighting for five full rounds, so if you step across from them, you better be ready for war because you will get nothing less.

These two warriors will give us a show to remember, and both will come ready for the fight of their lives.


There are also some interesting and familiar names on the card as well.


In the co-main event, former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (21-5 9 KOs) takes on Jared Cannonier (13-4 9 KOs) in a bout to see who will be next for current champion Israel Adesanya. Heavyweights Alexander Volkov (31-8 20 KOs) and Walt Harris (13-8 13 KOs) will also battle along with a stacked card.



UFC 254 will surely be a fun event to watch with a special start time of 12PM EST so be sure to wake up early and tune in for fights from Fight Island.



Be sure to check out franchisesportsmedia.com for all your latest in MMA, Las Vegas sports news, events, previews, and recaps.


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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media


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