The lightweight championship unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and the interim titleholder Justin Gaethje has been confirmed as UFC 254’s main event on Saturday, October 24.
The next MMA event, which is set to take place at Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, aka ‘Fight Island’, has now been finalised with a total of six fights. The pay-per-view event is set to begin 7pm European prime time, which means no ridiculous late nights or ridiculous early alarms to witness the main event.
Nurmagomedov last fought in Abu Dhabi a year ago, when he forced Dustin Poirier to submit in the third round, which ensured that he made a successful defence of his lightweight belt.
This fight is set to be ‘The Eagle’s’ first bout since the death of his father and trainer Adulmanap, who helped turn Khabib into one of the most feared UFC fighters on the planet.
Gaethje, meanwhile, has fought in the Octagon more recently in Jacksonville back in May, when he replaced Khabib as the opponent for Tony Ferguson, who he subsequently TKO’d in the fifth round.
Before that upset victory over his American rival, the fighter known as ‘The Highlight’ had achieved three first-round stoppages against Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and James Vick.
Gaethje goes into the fight as the clear underdog, but despite this, ‘The Highlight’ does not appear intimidated by the Russian, as he said: “He isn’t as crazy as me that’s the thing. I think he is crazy and loves competition but he isn’t quite as crazy as me.
“He also hasn’t seen his blood many times I’m sure. His style of fighting is not something that you are looking for blood.”
The co-main event is scheduled to be former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker up against Jared Connonier.
Both fighters are coming off victories, with Whittaker winning via unanimous decision against Darren Till back in July. Connonier, however, has not fought since September 2019 when he stopped Jack Hermansson in the second round.
Four additional match-ups are due to take place at UFC 254. Before the co-main event, Alexander Volkov faces Walt Harris at heavyweight, while lightweights Islam Makhachev and Rafael dos Anjos are also set to do battle.
The night’s other encounters see Cynthia Calvillo against Lauren Murphy in the women’s flyweight division, while Magomed Ankalaev takes on Ion Cutelaba at light heavyweight.
The preliminary cards are expected to announced and confirmed soon.
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