December 1, 2020

UFC 254 Khabib – Gaethje

UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje is the upcoming Mixed Martial Arts event produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, to be held on October 24, 2020, at the Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

In order to serve as the event headliner, a UFC Lightweight Championship unification battle between current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje (also a former WSOF Lightweight Champion) was tabbed.

The match was briefly linked to UFC 253, but the date did not materialize and will now take place five weeks later. On September 17, the UFC announced the signing of former three-time Bellator Lightweight World Champion Michael Chandler, who is expected to act as a backup and possible replacement for the fight.

A middleweight battle between former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 248 in March, but due to personal reasons, Whittaker pulled out. For this event, the pairing has now been rescheduled.

A featherweight battle between The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America featherweight winner Yair Rodríguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov was expected to take place at this event despite never being officially announced.

The pairing was scheduled on two previous occasions, first at UFC 228 in September 2018 and then at UFC Fight Night in August of this year: Smith vs. Rakić. Rodríguez, however, with injury, pulled out of both events.

Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cuțelaba first met in a light heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo, where Ankalaev won via controversial knockout. Due to the controversy of the stoppage, the UFC booked the rematch for UFC 249, on its original April 18 date. However, Ankalaev was forced to pull out of the event due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were later rebooked for UFC 252, but Cuțelaba then pulled out after testing positive for COVID-19 and the bout was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić. Cuțelaba tested positive yet again on the day of the event, resulting in another cancellation of this fight. In turn, they were rescheduled for the third time and will meet at this event.

In a welterweight bout during the event, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos was expected to face Shavkat Rakhmonov. At the end of September, however, Zaleski pulled out due to a knee injury requiring an operation. Alex Oliveira replaced him.

The event was expected to feature a light battle between former champion Rafael dos Anjos and Islam Makhachev. However, two Anjos were tested positively on COVID-19 on 8 October and were pulled out of the fight.

There was no replacement, and Makhachev was also deleted from the event. At UFC Fight Night 183 the pairing was left unchanged for November 14.

The event was scheduled for the women’s flyweight match between Cynthia Calvillo and former Invicta FC bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy. However, on October 15, after positive testing for COVID-19 and by promoting newcomer Liliya Shakirova, Calvillo was forced to withdraw from the battle.

A bantamweight battle was scheduled for the event between Umar Nurmagomedov and Sergey Morozov. On October 18, Nurmagomedov was however announced to have been hospitalized and pulled out of the body due to a disease. The promotion looks for Morozov to be replaced.

MAIN CARD

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier
Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris
Jacob Malkoun vs. Phillip Hawes
Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba

PRELIMINARY CARD

Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa
Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney
Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Sergey Morozov
Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick
Joel Alvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev