Khabib vs Gaethje predictions: Who will win UFC 254 main event?

Alex Pattle
·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Khabib Nurmagomedov would take another step towards proving he is the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC if he beats lightweight rival Justin Gaethje on Saturday night, according to company president Dana White.

Nurmagomedov has seen off all 28 opponents to hold the mixed martial arts record for the longest active undefeated streak, which he is putting on the line alongside his 155lb title at UFC 254 at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi.

If he has his hand raised then White believes the Russian would be the best pound-for-pound fighter within the organisation, overtaking former light-heavyweight titlist Jon Jones, while enhancing his standing to be considered as the greatest UFC combatant of all-time.

"I think if Khabib beats Justin on Saturday, he's the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world and he's on his way to 'GOAT' status," White said. "It's pretty impressive what this guy has done. He's one of the biggest stars in the sport. You know what I think of Jon Jones and we all talk about what Jon's accomplished in his career, look at how many fights this guy (Nurmagomedov) has had and he's still undefeated. This is a nasty, nasty weight division."

Here’s everything you need to know about UFC 254:

When is it?

In a rare treat for UK fans, the main card will get under way at 7pm BST on Saturday.

That follows the prelims, which start at 5pm BST, and the early preliminary card, which begins at 3.30pm BST.

How can I watch it?

UK fans can watch the main card on BT Sport Box Office HD, as well as the broadcaster’s site and app, for a fee of £19.95. The prelims will air to BT Sport subscribers for free.

In the US, the main card will air on ESPN+, which – along with ESPN – will show the prelims. Both channels will also air the early prelims, as will UFC’s Fight Pass.

Predictions

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje

Adam Hamdani: I just have to back Khabib, I'm not really sure how you can bet against him. He has been so dominant in his UFC career, as well as the entirety of his time as an MMA fighter. He is my P4P No1. In both of Gaethje's losses he has been stopped, and I can see Khabib's ground work being too much for him here. Khabib via submission, round 3.

Alex Pattle: Gaethje is Khabib's toughest opponent yet, and I fully believe he can beat Khabib. With his wrestling skills, Gaethje might just be able to keep the fight standing. If he can, this is actually Gaethje's fight to lose. I normally play it safe, but I'm going to say it: Justin Gaethje is going to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov this weekend. Gaethje via decision.

Jack Rathborn: I’m rolling with the upset too, with 13 months since his last fight, I think Gaethje’s victory (and the manner no less, with his emphatic display earning him Performance of the Night against Tony Ferguson) this year will provide him with momentum to execute his game plan here and shock the Russian. Gaethje by TKO/KO.

Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier

AH: Cannonier has incredible power and since finding his feet at middleweight has been on quite the win streak, but Whittaker's experience at the highest level might prove too much in this one. Whittaker via decision

AP: There's no doubt in my mind that Whittaker is the more well-rounded mixed martial artist, but Cannonier's power give him every chance of undermining that fact completely. In a three-round fight, with less time in which to get caught, Whittaker should be able to use his versatility and experience to outpoint Cannonier. Whittaker via decision

Alexander Volkov vs Walt Harris

AH: The winner of this one will find themselves back in the mix at heavyweight – a pretty jam-packed mix, but back in the mix nonetheless. When Harris loses, it doesn't often go to a decision, and I can see Volkov stopping him late here. Volkov via TKO, round 3

AP: I think Volkov has more tools, including the ability to keep this fight at a favourable range for him. I expect a technical showing from the Russian and a decision win. Volkov via decision

Jacob Malkoun vs Phil Hawes

AP: Hawes via TKO, round 2

Lauren Murphy vs Liliya Shakirova

AP: Murphy via decision

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

AP: Ankalaev via decision

Who is fighting?

Main card

Khabib Nurmagomedov (C) vs Justin Gaethje (IC) – lightweight

Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier – middleweight

Alexander Volkov vs Walt Harris – heavyweight

Jacob Malkoun vs Phil Hawes – middleweight

Lauren Murphy vs Liliya Shakirova – women’s flyweight

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba – light heavyweight

Prelims

Stefan Struve vs Tai Tuivasa – heavyweight

Nathaniel Wood vs Casey Kenney – catchweight (140lbs)

Alex Oliveira vs Shavkat Rakhmonov – welterweight

Jung Da Un vs Sam Alvey – light heavyweight

Early prelims

Umar Nurmagomedov vs Sergey Morozov – bantamweight

Liana Jojua vs Miranda Maverick – women’s flyweight

Joel Alvarez vs Alexander Yakovlev – lightweight

Odds

Nurmagomedov: 2/7

Gaethje: 11/4

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