An undisputed lightweight champion will be determined in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 254 as champion Khabib Nurmagomedov battles interim title holder Justin Gaethje from “Fight Island” at the Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Numragomedov (28-0) comes in with the longest active winning streak in the UFC at 12. He returns for the first time since UFC 242 when the native of Dagestan submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round. “The Eagle” had been set to finally square off with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18. The date got moved due to the COVID-19 outbreak which led to Nurmagomedov flying back back home to be with his family who had been suffering from the coronavirus.
With Nurmagomedov out, Gaethje (22-2) stepped up to the plate on short notice at UFC 249 that ended up getting shifted to May 9. Gaethje dominated from beginning to end, stopping Ferguson via fifth-round TKO to win his first UFC title and snapping Ferguson’s 12-fight winning streak.
Can “The Highlight” do the same to the man who many pundits feel is unbeatable? Or does Nurmagomedov continue his reign of terror?
Khabib vs. Gaethje live updates, highlights from UFC 254
(All times Eastern.)
2:37 p.m.: Coming up at UFC 254, No. 5-ranked Lauren Murphy facing Liliya Shakirova in women’s flyweight action. Shakirova is taking the fight on short notice, but comes in having won eight of nine pro contests. Since moving down 125 pounds, it’s been a whole new Murphy (13-4) as she’s won three consecutive bouts in her new weight class.
This should be a showcase for Murphy but never say never in MMA.
Magomed Ankalaev settles the score with Ion Cutelaba in emphatic fashion
2:27 p.m.: Ankalaev def. Cutelaba by knockout at 4:19 of the first round. A straight left hand set everything up for Ankaleav. He dropped Cutelaba, who rolled back to his feet. Cutelaba tried to close the distance with the jab. But Ankalaev was having none of it, landing a check right hook immediately followed by a monsterous left hook to send Cutelaba to the canvas. Ankalaev landed couple of ground and punches for good measure to seal the deal.
A great win Ankalaev and now he can put Cutelaba in his rearview mirror and focus on working his way up in the light heavyweight division.
2:13 p.m.: The UFC 254 main card begins with No. 11-ranked Magomed Ankalaev versus Ion Cutelaba in light heavyweight action. This rematch has been booked more times than we’d all like to remember. They fought back in February with Ankaleav (13-1) winning via a controversial stoppage. Ankaleav was landing a series of shots but Cutelaba (15-5, one no-contest) was possum and trying to bait Ankaleav in. The referee didn’t feel that was the case and stopped the fight.
The score will get settled here.
1:50 p.m.: Told you guys it wouldn’t last long as Tuivasa knocked out Struve with one second remaining in the first round. Tuivasa landed a series of shots before an uppercut sent Struve crumbling right before the bell.
1:39 p.m.: Its time for the UFC 254 featured prelim as Stefan Sturve takes on Tai Tuivasa. If you prefer slugfests then this will be the fight for you.
12:51 p.m.: You need to remember the name Shavkat Rakhmonov. He just steamrolled through Alex Oliveira to win by fist-round submission (guillotine choke). Rakhmonov showed great standup but had even better ground work in snatching Oliveira’s head, dropping to the mat and netting the submission for a successful UFC debut and remain undefeated in 13 fights. Give him a few more fights and he can easily be a top contender in a talent rich welterweight division.
12:30 p.m.: Da Un Jung and Sam Alvey battle to an entertaining split draw (29-28 Jung, 29-28 Alvey, 28-28). Heading into the third round, Alvey looked to be on his way to victory. But Jung tightened things up and dropped Alvey twice with sharp right elbows and busted the Canadian’s nose. The judge had to score the third round 10-8 which is absurd because Alvey was connecting often with the uppercut down the middle.
Noon ET: Welcome to Sporting News’ live coverage of UFC 254. The main event features one of the marquee stars in the sport, Khabib Nurmagomedov defending the lightweight title against interim titlist Justin Gaethje. It’s going to be an exciting day so grab the refreshments, get on the couch, relax and enjoy the ride.
UFC 254 undercard results
- Tai Tuivasa def. Stefan Struve via knockout at 4:59 of the first round.
- Casey Kenney def. Nathaniel Wood by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
- Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Alex Oliveira via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:40 of the first round.
- Da Un Jung and Sam Alvey go to a split draw (29-28 Jung, 29-28 Alvey, 28-28)
- Miranda Maverick def. Liana Jojua by TKO at 5:00 of the first-round.
- Joel Alvarez def. Alexander Yakovlev via submission (armbar) at 3:00 of the first round.
Khabib vs. Gaethje start time
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 24
- Early prelims: 10:30 a.m. ET
- Prelims: 12 p.m. ET
- Main card: 2 p.m. ET
- Live stream: ESPN+
UFC 254 takes place Saturday, Oct. 24. Early prelims get underway at 10:30 a.m. ET, followed by prelims at noon and the main card pay-per-view at 2 p.m. ET.
UFC 254 fight card
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) vs. Justin Gaethje for Nurmagomedov’s lightweight title
- Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier; Middleweight
- Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris; Heavyweight
- Jacob Malkoun vs. Phillip Hawes; Middleweight
- Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova; Women’s flyweight
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba; Light heavyweight
- Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa; Heavyweight
- Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney; Bantamweight catchweight
- Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov; Welterweight
- Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey; Light Heavyweight
- Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Sergey Morozov; Bantamweight
- Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick; Women’s flyweight
- Joel Alvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev; Lightweight