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UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje - Oct 24 🇦🇪 🏝


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Alright then. Saturday 24th October. Fight Island hosts this bastard...

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PPV MAIN CARD
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje - Lightweight Title

Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier 

Alexander Volkov vs Walt Harris 

Phil Hawes vs Jacob Malkoun

Lauren Murphy vs Liliya Shakirova 

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba 

ESPN PRELIMS
Stefan Struve vs Tai Tuivasa

Casey Kenney vs Nathaniel Wood

Alex Oliveira vs Shavkat Rakhmonov

Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Umar Nurmagomedov vs Sergey Morozov 

Liana Jojua vs Miranda Maverick

Joel Alvarez vs Alexander Yakovlev 

 

Look at that! And to think we were meant to get Tony Ferguson vs Dustin Poirier as well on this. I’m still seeing various places reporting Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Yair Rodriguez for this card but it’s still not official so I’m not even going to waste my time. If it gets added I’ll update this shite. Some card though. BT Box Office can tongue my bum hole though. And they still won’t get £20 off me. 

 

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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje. Don’t fucking touch this one COVID. Don’t you dare. I can’t wait for this bastard. What a fascinating clash of styles. Khabib’s 28-0 and he’s rarely lost a round. Gaethje is 22-2 and a fucking madman. Champ vs Interim Champ.

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What more can be said about Khabib? He’s the man at Lightweight until someone can prove otherwise. I think he’s the Lightweight GOAT at this stage. We’ve had some greats like BJ Penn and Takanori Gomi but even they had their clear cut losses. Khabib never has. Also, Khabib putting away McGregor and Poirier in his last two just strengthened his case even more. It’s crazy that in a division as loaded and scary as 155, that he’s been able to dominate the way he has. This time there is a question mark surrounding him though.

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In July, Khabib’s father Abdulmanap died after a battle with COVID and complications stemming from it. He was in a coma in May, then seemed to be recovering, then just like that he was gone. Really sad. He was only 57 as well. Not only that, he was a constant source of support, knowledge and advice for Khabib. You could always tell they were mega close so there’s obvious questions now on how or if this will effect Khabib going forward in his MMA career. Here’s Khabib talking about the loss of his father;

Any challenge either breaks you or makes you stronger. We’ll see what it does to me in time.” - Khabib Nurmagomedov 

You never know how anyone is going to respond to something like this. But Khabib strikes me as the type who will use it as motivation to work even harder and perform even better to honour his old man.

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For Justin Gaethje, it’s been a wild and turbulent road to get to this point. He turned pro in 2011 and won his first fight with a KO via slam in a minute. Talk about starting as you mean to go on. No wonder he got nicknamed ‘The Highlight’. He first got on my radar in his WSOF days. Him and Marlon Moraes were basically the only reason I used to keep up with WSOF at all. And his two batshit barnburners with Luis Palomino, fuck me! Seriously, if you’ve only seen Gaethje’s wars over the last couple of years, don’t just assume he started fighting like that when he signed with the UFC. He’s been at it for ages. 

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The Palomino fights are ones you really need to see if you haven’t already though. Both bonkers fights. 

He came into the UFC in the summer of 2017, unbeaten at 17-0 with 15 finishes. And in his Octagon debut, he tore the house down and knocked out Michael Johnson after a crazy slobberknocker. He then hit a blip and had his first taste of defeat. Losing back-to-back fights to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. But again, both fucking incredible FOTY contenders. He came back from those losses in style, rattling off 3 first round knockouts against James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone.

But where this Khabib vs Gaethje fight really started coming together, was earlier this year. Of course, we were meant to get Khabib vs Tony Ferguson in April, but you know that old story. How many times are we expected to go through this heartbreak?

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It’s just not meant to be, is it? This time we got to about 2 weeks out from the fight and it all went to bollocks. This thing called COVID came in and Khabib ended up stuck in Russia due to the flight restrictions. Khabib was out and the whole thing ended up getting pushed back to May. And in stepped Gaethje. Him and Ferguson would battle it out for the interim strap.

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They went out and had exactly the kind of nutty scrap everyone wanted to see. That 249 show was such a welcome escape, even for just one night, from the constant bad news and doom and gloom in the world. At the height of worldwide hysteria and fear and everything getting cancelled and shut down, to sit back and watch that stacked card topped off by Ferguson vs Gaethje was such a welcome release. But yeah, in the end, Gaethje battered him.

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Typical. Cheers Justin. Why not just go ahead and completely kill ANY chance of Khabib vs Ferguson ever happening?

So here we are. Khabib vs Gaethje to unify the belts. Lost in all the chaotic buildup though, is that this is such an intriguing fight style-wise. Two things Gaethje has going for him that Khabib’s past opponents haven’t really, are 1) his wrestling background. And 2) his insane toughness. Some of Khabib’s opponents may have had one of these attributes but Gaethje has both. His wrestling could be the key to the whole thing. If he can stop Khabib’s takedown, even if he can just make it a real struggle, this could get very, very interesting. And his refusal to quit is off the charts. He won’t be breaking or pleading that “it’s only business” when things get rough in there. Khabib’s going to have to take the fight from him. Then you throw in Gaethje’s power and it’s a hell of a fight. I’m still favouring Khabib but when you look at Gaethje’s box of tricks and then add in that Khabib’s head might not be in the best place after losing his old man just a couple of months ago, who the fuck knows really? We’ll find out soon enough. If it doesn’t get cancelled eh? 

 

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Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier. Not sure if this is the co-main or what. Cracking fight wherever it sits. Can’t go wrong with this. Whittaker has proven himself as one of the toughest bastards on the roster. The man went a total of 10 rounds with Yoel Romero and lived to tell the tale. Took Yoel’s best as well. I still don’t know how he survived that second fight. He had a shitty end to 2019, losing the belt to Adesanya. And a shitty start to 2020 going through personal issues outside the cage. But he came back on a positive note, beating Darren Till in a really good fight in July. Bobby Knuckles is back on track. Cannonier kind of came out of nowhere. He was a very average 205er a couple of years ago. He was 10-4 and coming off losses to Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz. He was going nowhere and probably not far off getting his walking papers, truth be told. But in late 2018, he dropped to 185, jumped in on short notice and stopped David Branch at MSG. Then he got a win over Anderson Silva in Brazil. It ended in anti-climatic fashion with a leg injury but it was Cannonier’s doing so a legitimate win. Then he went over to Copenhagen and bashed Jack Hermansson about.

205 Cannonier vs 185 Cannonier;

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He’s like a different fighter. Seems a bit out there on social media. Haven’t checked in for a while now but last time I did he was spewing all manner of mad conspiracy shite. Make no mistake though, at 185 he’s a force to be reckoned with. The winner of this could be right in the conversation for a crack at the gold as well. After Adesanya vs Costa, there’s no obvious standout next top contender. If Cannonier wins this you have to think he’ll get the next shot. If Whittaker wins though, I can’t see them doing him and Izzy again just yet so he might need Costa to get it done at 253. This should be a banger though. Timing and momentum might favour Cannonier but I can’t count Whittaker out.

 

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Alexander Volkov vs Walt Harris. Got to get the big boys on there. Not sure how this one pans out. They both really need a win at the moment. Volkov is coming off a really lopsided decision loss against Curtis Blaydes in his last fight. And Harris got stopped by Overeem in a comeback finish after giving Reem a right hiding early on. Volkov is 31-8, Harris is 13-8-1. So the experience is massively on the Russian’s side. And, as always, he’ll enjoy a height advantage. I’ll be rooting for Big Walt though. I like him more of the two anyway but after what that man’s been through over the last year I don’t think I can find it in my heart to go against him ever again. Nothing against Volkov but I hope Walt absolutely smashes him. Sadly though, I think Volkov probably wins this. The experience and size, plus he’s beat Werdum, he’s better technically etc. I can just see him outworking Harris. But one thing about Harris is he’s explosive as fuck and he closes the distance fast when he wants to. And Volkov has typically been more hittable than you’d expect a man of 6’7” to be. There’s a decent chance Walt puts the early blitz on him and gets the W but I’m favouring Volkov myself.

 

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Phil Hawes vs Jacob Malkoun. OK then. Two UFC newbies here. Never heard of either but I’m not surprised to learn Hawes is off Dana’s Contender Series. Almost every newcomer seems to be these days. He’s 8-2, all finishes, and he’s coming off a first round stoppage on DWCS in early September which bagged him a UFC contract. Malkoun is either 4-0 or 3-0 depending on where you look. He’s Australian and is a sparring partner of Robert Whittaker. That’s about it. I’ll give it a look.

 

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Lauren Murphy vs Liliya Shakirova. Late change. Cynthia Calvillo pulled out, UFC newcomer Shakirova steps in.  It’s doing nothing for me really. Murphy isn’t always the best to watch but she’s won 3 in a row. Shakirova is from Uzbekistan, 8-1 record but hasn’t beat anyone you’d know. She might be good but I don’t know enough to give a shite. Especially on a card where it’s surrounded by so many great fights.

 

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Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba 2 is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** for this card. Well, if we can watch it this time. The thing seems cursed at this point. They first met back in February and it lasted just 38 seconds. But it was 38 seconds of utter mayhem. You know some mad shite is about to go off when security has to step in during the Bruce Buffer intros, for fuck’s sake.

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Then the fight started and they were both throwing with serious heat and bad intentions. Ankalaev buzzed him with a couple of headkicks and referee Kevin McDonald jumped in and waved it off with Cutelaba still on his feet. I’m all for fighter safety being the main priority and Cutelaba WAS wobbly, but I couldn’t help feeling like the ref didn’t give him much of a chance. The fight had just started and, although rocked, Cutelaba was firing back when the ref stepped in. You’d always rather a referee steps in slightly too early than too late, obviously, but it was no less disappointing and I’m glad they’re running it back. Or at least attempting to. Again. The rematch was originally supposed to go down at UFC 249 back in May but it fell apart. Then it was pushed back to UFC 252 in August but got scrapped when Cutelaba tested positive for COVID just a few days out. Then it was rescheduled for the Fight Night on Aug 29th but, again, Cutelaba tested positive for COVID. As much as I want to see this rematch, if it goes balls up again they might have to just accept it’s jinxed and move both guys onto something else. Hopefully it finally happens this time and we can get this settled.

 

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Stefan Struve vs Tai Tuivasa just got added. Nothing fight but could be OK. Maybe. Or really bad. A fight like this speaks volumes about how the UFC just need bodies to fill the insane schedule these days. Struve’s looked pretty shot for a while now and they actually sacked Tuivasa not too long ago.  Now he’s back before even fighting again anywhere else. At one point I thought Tuivasa could be something. Not in a ‘Stipe Miocic GOAT’ way or champion material but more in the mould of a new Mark Hunt. Someone who’d have fun fights and occasionally mix with the top boys. But he’s shat the bed in his last few fights. He’s lost his last 3 and looked pretty bad in the process. Struve’s lost 4 of his last 5 as well and got stopped by Ben Rothwell last time out. Like I said, just filling a gap. I really like them both but these two are going nowhere.

 

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Casey Kenney vs Nathaniel Wood just got added late in the day. Only a couple of weeks to go. Should be worth a look. Kenney literally just fought on the Holm vs Aldana card. He beat Alateng Heili in a one sided decision. Less than 48 hours later, he had this fight booked. He doesn’t fuck about. He’s on a nice little run actually. He’s 15-2-1 overall and he’s won 8 of his last 9 with wins over Louis Smolka, Ray Borg and Brandon Royval in there. Wood is one of the more promising UK fighters on the UFC roster. 27 years old, 17-4 record, 14 finishes, former Cage Warriors champ. His only blemish so far since signing with the UFC was that stoppage loss to John Dodson in February but he’s rallied back with a win over John Castaneda in July since. Interesting fight and I wouldn’t assume Wood comes out on top. Kenney could be a bit of a dark horse.
 

 

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Alex Oliveira vs Shavkat Rakhmonov then. I like this. Rakhmonov was originally slated to fight Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos on this card but that’s obviously gone down the shitter. This might actually be even better though. Been looking forward to Rakhmonov’s debut all year now. He was supposed to make his debut way back in March on the London card that got binned. He’s 12-0, 12 finishes, was the M-1 Global Welterweight champ and was the first Kazakh fighter to be signed to a UFC contract. Oliveira is no easy debut opponent and is probably a stiffer test than Dos Santos would’ve been. He’s experienced, he’s been in with some of the best in the game, he’s tough, he’s crafty, he’s a bit nutty and he’s coming off a couple of wins. Should provide the perfect barometer to give us an idea on what Rakhmonov’s about.

 

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Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey. Can’t say I’m too fussed about this. It’s the Sam Alvey factor for me. Just can’t be arsed with the grinning goof. He’s 34-14-0-1 now and I couldn’t really tell you a fight of his I really enjoyed. He’s not boring and he has had some nice finishes over the years. He just bugs me for whatever reason. He needs a win in the worst way now as well. He’s coming off 4 straight losses, one of them being a stoppage at the hands of the shell of Little Nog. Jung hasn’t looked bad in the limited footage I’ve seen of him, to be fair. He fights out of Korean Top Team and is 13-2 with 12 finishes. 10 by KO. He’s already stopped Khadis Ibragimov and Mike Rodriguez since signing with the UFC last year. Going on current form, you’d expect Jung to chin Alvey. And I wouldn’t be at all mad at that result.

 

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Umar Nurmagomedov vs Sergey Morozov could be a bit of a sleeper. Two UFC newcomers facing off against each other. Nurmagomedov is Khabib’s cousin, 24 years old, unbeaten at 12-0. Hasn’t beat anyone you’d know yet but so far, so good. He was meant to face Nathaniel Wood recently but the death of Khabib’s dad/his uncle understandably saw him to take some time off. Morozov is from Kazakhstan, 31 years old and he was M-1 Global’s Bantamweight champion. 16-4 with 11 finishes.

 

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Liana Jojua vs Miranda Maverick. Nothing special but could be alright. Jojua is Russian, 25 years old with a record of 8-3 and 7 finishes, mostly submissions. Lost her UFC debut but bounced back with a first round armbar against Diana Belbita in her last fight in July. Maverick is making her Octagon debut here. She was supposed to fight on the Poirier vs Hooker undercard in June but got injured. She’s 23 years old, 7-2 with 5 submissions. All but one of her fights took place in Invicta.

 

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Joel Alvarez vs Alexander Yakovlev. Not too familiar with either guy, seen maybe one or two fights of both. Was impressed with Alvarez though. He’s Spanish, 17-2 with all his wins being finishes. Still only 27 as well. He submitted Joe Duffy in about 2 minutes in his last fight in July. Although Duffy hasn’t looked right for some time and retired after that loss so I’m not sure how much to read into that win. Alvarez looks like someone to keep an eye on though. Yakovlev’s knocked about a bit. He’s 36 years old with a record of 24-9-1. Most notable names he’s beat are Paul Daley and a shot Gray Maynard. He’s also gone the distance in defeat with Kamaru Usman and Demian Maia. So he’s at least felt the top level. At this stage I’d favour Alvarez but it’s one of those up and comer vs veteran fights that should be a bit of a test for Alvarez at least. 


 

And that’s 254. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Alright then. Saturday 24th October. Fight Island hosts this bastard... PPV MAIN CARD Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje - Lightweight Title Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier 

I love this. Seriously though, Khabib looks sick to death of people asking about Conor at this point and I don’t blame him. I don’t even think Conor is focusing on Khabib at the moment. Ther

I don’t base anything on that Iaquinta fight myself. That fight gets brought up a lot (along with Michael Johnson having him ‘badly hurt’) but people forget the absolute shitshow of a fight week Khabi

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I've voted for Gaethje by TKO/KO, but not confident at all in that choice. Such a ridiculously good fight, and it'd be some story if Gaethje were to beat Tony and Khabib back to back.

Khabibs chin has held up to some decent shots as well, but whether it can survive a Gaethje shot is a big one for me.

Whittaker vs Cannonier could be carnage. 

Great work as per usual mate! 

 

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I think Khabib is in that rare air GSP/Jones GOAT territory if he gets his hand raised in this. I hope he does too. A lovely moment for him given the few months he's had with his Dad passing. As wand points out, we don't know how he'll handle this going into the fight. By most reports, his Dad was not only a massive positive driving force for Khabib's excellence but he made sure Khabib kept a humble head on him. You only need to look back at the press conference immediately after he went Stone Cold on McGregor's crew. The only thing Khabib was concerned about was getting home and his Dad skelping his arse.

Gaethje is a monster though. The way he bested a great like Tony Ferguson, in the manner he did, was proper terrifying.

High level stuff, this.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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yeh, there weren't many at all last time. Could it be a case of more people testing positive on arrival now though? or do they need to be negative before they leave for the island?

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6 minutes ago, Egg Shen said:

yeh, there weren't many at all last time. Could it be a case of more people testing positive on arrival now though? or do they need to be negative before they leave for the island?

From what I have seen its testing prior to leaving and once again when you arrive 

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They just seem to be super-stringent with testing for the UFC events from what I've seen. The build-up videos displayed the highest level of testing and precautions I've ever seen.

The UFC certainly aren't replicating it in their Vegas shows, that's for sure. But that's probably because the government over there is footing the bill.

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Will Cynthia Calvillo be the first fighter ever to win a main event and then fight on the pre lims in their next fight? I can't think of many cases where that has happened. There's probably a few people coming off main event loses fighting their next fight on the prelims (probably most fly weights DJ beat) but I can't think of any winners.

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10 minutes ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

Will Cynthia Calvillo be the first fighter ever to win a main event and then fight on the pre lims in their next fight? I can't think of many cases where that has happened. There's probably a few people coming off main event loses fighting their next fight on the prelims (probably most fly weights DJ beat) but I can't think of any winners.

She might be on the main card yet. She shouldn’t be given how many better fights are on this but the official bout order hasn’t been confirmed yet. I’ve guessed it for now. 

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20 minutes ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

Will Cynthia Calvillo be the first fighter ever to win a main event and then fight on the pre lims in their next fight? I can't think of many cases where that has happened. There's probably a few people coming off main event loses fighting their next fight on the prelims (probably most fly weights DJ beat) but I can't think of any winners.

Kendall Grove.

He beat Evan Tanner in the main event of the TUF 7 finale. 

In his next fight, he beat Jason Day on the prelim portion of the UFC 96 PPV. 

There are probably a few other examples. I just can't think of them.

Edited by jimufctna24
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theres no way you knew that off the top of your head Jim😄

here's one i did know, Ricco Rodriguez went from being Champion and losing at UFC 41, to being on the prelims and fighting Pedro Rizzo at UFC 45 (though did fight in Pride in between). 

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7 minutes ago, Egg Shen said:

theres no way you knew that off the top of your head Jim😄

Aye, by pure chance I was reading Tanner's record only the other week. It popped into my head that his fight with Grove was one of the weaker main events of that era, and there was therefore a chance that Grove would have been sent to the prelims for his next fight. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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The main card was confirmed last night and it’s a 6 fighter.

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So Calvillo vs Murphy is on the PPV. Like anyone gives a bollocks. Cracking main card aside from that though. And that’s even without the planned Ferguson vs Poirier scrap on there. According to Helwani, the UFC were trying to sort out a fight on this show for Michael Chandler this week but I guess they never got it done. He’s probably going to just stay in shape and hang about as the substitute if either Khabib or Gaethje drop out. 

No Zabit vs Yair either. That was being heavily rumoured for this card. I’ve seen people moaning that Yair’s shat himself and ducked Zabit but I think it’s more likely just been pushed back and targeted for another card. Hopefully as main event over 5 rounds. A couple of the upcoming cards need headliners so it makes more sense to whack it on one of them. Not like 254 really needs it. 

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