Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje UFC 254 Tips, Predictions & Preview

Looking for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje UFC 254 tips? Our UFC expert previews the title fight and gives his predictions, tips and preview.

A unification bout will take place when UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his title against interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, which will be held at UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, on Sunday, October 25 at 5am AEDT.

Here are our best bets and predictions for UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Last 5 Fights

Date Result Opponent Method
September 7, 2019 Win Dustin Poirier Submission (rear-naked choke)
October 6, 2018 Win Conor McGregor Submission (neck crank)
April 7, 2018 Win Al Iaquinta Decision (unanimous)
December 30, 2017 Win Edson Barboza Decision (unanimous)
November 12, 2016 Win Michael Johnson Submission (kimura)

Justin Gaethje Last 5 Fights


Date Result Opponent Method
May 9, 2020 Win Tony Ferguson TKO (punches)
September 14, 2019 Win Donald Cerrone TKO (punches)
March 30, 2019 Win Edson Barboza KO (punch)
August 25, 2018 Win James Vick KO (punch)
April 14, 2018 Loss Dustin Poirier TKO (punches)

The Road To Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje

Khabib Nurmagomedov has fought inside the Octagon just four times in the past three years, but he has shown his dominance in that time as the top dog in the UFC’s Lightweight division. The 32-year-old captured the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship in April 2018 with a unanimous victory over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. In October of that year, he would score the biggest win of his career at UFC 229.

Months of trash talking led to Khabib fighting former champion Conor McGregor in one of the biggest fights in UFC history. McGregor was returning to MMA competition having had a boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor was supremely confident he could end Khabib’s streak but his confidence didn’t translate inside the Octagon with Khabib dominating the fight; he even knocked down McGregor during the fight, before applying a neck crank that forced the Irishman to tap out in the fourth round.

Things continued to get ugly following that bout with tensions rising between both camps and talks of a rematch began. This wouldn’t transpire and Khabib would wait 11 months for his next fight. Dustin Poirier had claimed the interim belt with a win over Max Holloway, which led to ‘The Diamond’ meeting Khabib at UFC 242 in September 2019. The champion once again showed he was a class above the division by dominating Poirier and making him submit to a rear-naked choke in the third round.

Gaethje began his career 18-0 before suffering back-to-back stoppage losses against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier in late 2017 and early 2018. He then quickly made everyone take notice with three-straight first round knockouts against James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

Next up was Tony Ferguson and many believed Gaethje’s winning streak would come to an end against ‘El Cucuy’ but that wasn’t what would transpire with Gaethje leaving Ferguson bloody and battered as he recorded a fifth-round TKO at UFC 249 on May 9.

Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje Tips, Predictions & Preview

Khabib’s gameplan is a simple one – he takes down his opponent and mauls them on the ground for either five rounds or until they give up. His striking isn’t spectacular but has certainly improved and one of his biggest weapons is the fear of a takedown. If you look at the Conor McGregor fight, you will see the Irishman was so concerned about the takedown, Khabib was able to outstrike him on his feet, which included dropping McGregor during the fight. It probably isn’t wise to stand and strike with Gaethje however as ‘The Highlight’ showed how much damage he can produce against Ferguson. Not only that, Gaethje boasts 19 knockout wins in his career.

Will Khabib be able to get the title challenger to the mat? The match looks like it will depend upon this fact because Gaethje will be in a world of trouble if Khabib has control on the mat. Gaethje is a talented wrestler though so it’s not 100 per cent fight over if Khabib takes him down. He also has great cardio that should serve him well in the fight because Khabib has a grinding approach where he will just wear down his opponent and break them mentally.

It may sound crazy to go against a champion that is a perfect 28-0 in his career, but we are going with Gaethje to become the undisputed UFC Lightweight champion of the world. Expect Gaethje to use vicious leg kicks to weaken Khabib, leaving him vulnerable on the feet. The value is definitely with Gaethje to deliver Khabib his first professional defeat in his mixed martial arts career.

Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje Quotes

Khabib Nurmagomedov: “I’m going to try wrestling with him. If he’s going to defend my takedowns for a long time, I’m going to try second, third, I’m going to try 100 times. I’m going to box with him. I’m going to kick with him. It’s going to be kickboxing and wrestling mixed. My goal is to make him tired… and maybe in round number three or round four, my plan is finish him.”

Justin Gaethje talking to ESPN: “I know I’m going to see his blood. I want him to see his blood and I want to see his reaction. He isn’t as crazy as me, that’s the thing. He hasn’t seen his blood many times, I’m sure. His style of fighting is not something where you are looking for blood. I bet that doesn’t even cross his mind that he will see his own blood. That has never been a factor for him. I truly think that if I can beat Khabib and then beat Conor [McGregor], I will have cemented something that is unmatched.”