UFC 254 Preview: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje

The UFC 254 main even is arguably the most anticipated fight of 2020. Undefeated lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0), will defend his crown against the interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2).

This fight is trending to be one of the biggest UFC fights of all time. Khabib Nurmagomedov has become a global superstar since becoming champion. The dominant Russian is a rare fighter who’s level of domination is unheard of.

Nurmagomedov is so special because he tells his UFC opponents exactly what he’s going to do, however, they still can’t stop it. Khabib has ragdolled opponents like Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Edson Barboza, Rafael Dos Anjos, and more on his run of dominance.

This year has been a tough year for Nurmagomedov. The UFC‘s lightweight champion lost his father who was also his lead trainer. This fight sees Nurmagomedov with a new motivation to finish the journey that he started with his father years ago.

2020 couldn’t have gone better for Justin Gaethje in terms of his fighting career. After the pandemic scrapped the Nurmagomedov – Tony Ferguson fight, the UFC called on Justin Gaethje. He went on to defeat Ferguson at UFC 249 to capture the interim title.

The Justin Gaethje that fought that night looked like the best lightweight in the world. His precision power striking along with his ability to stay composed was remarkable. Gaethje also has an All-American wrestling pedigree in his back pocket when he needs it.

UFC 254 Prediction

The classic saying is that styles make fights. Stylistically, Justin Gaethje is the toughest opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC. Gaethje has incredibly good and powerful leg kicks which can zap anyone’s base very quickly.

In addition to that, he hands are very fast and powerful. It only takes one clean shot to hurt you with Justin Gaethje. On top of that, he’s an All-American wrestler who might be able to hold his own against the dominant UFC lightweight champion.

If Justin Gaethje can keep the fight standing the majority of the time, he’s going to win tomorrow afternoon. However, that would mean Gaethje would pull off something that nobody has been able to do in 28 fights.

Gaethje absolutely has the skills to get it done tomorrow. However, I find it hard to bet against Nurmagomedov. I think Gaethje is going to find some success early, but eventually, Khabib will be able to do what he does best as well.

When all is said and done tomorrow, I think later in the fight, Nurmagomedov will get it done. I think it will end the same way the last two fights with Nurmagomedov have ended. A takedown against the fence leading to a rear naked choke finish.

Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov by Submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 4

UFC 254 Preview: Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier

The co-main event of UFC 254 features a fantastic matchup in the middleweight division. Former champion, Robert Whittaker (21-5), will be taking on the Killa Gorilla, Jared Cannonier (13-4), for the top contender spot in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

For Whittaker, it’s a pretty quick turn around from his last fight back at UFC Fight Island 3. That night saw Whittaker take on and defeat Darren Till by unanimous decision. It was Whittaker’s first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title.

Bobby Knuckles entered the UFC in the welterweight division, however, his career took off when he moved to middleweight. Whittaker started his middleweight run 9-0 with wins over guys like Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson, and Uriah Hall.

He became the first UFC champion from Australia. However, Whittaker felt himself getting burned out. Then last year at UFC 243, Israel Adesanya knocked Whittaker out. Since then, Whittaker has rededicated himself to the sport and he’s trying to get his belt back.

Jared Cannonier is competing in his third weight class inside the UFC. He entered the promotion as a heavyweight. Then he transitioned to light heavyweight before ultimately moving down to middleweight which is his best weight class.

Since moving to middleweight, Cannonier is 3-0 with three stoppages. He’s finished Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva, and David Branch since dropping down. He’s a terrifying force for the middleweight division and carries a ton of power.

UFC 254 Prediction

Tomorrow’s co-main event is going to be so much fun to watch. It’s going to be extremely entertaining, and I’m very torn on who I see winning at UFC 254. I think if you look at their skillsets overall, I lean towards Bobby Knuckles.

Whittaker’s game overall is fantastic, but his striking is where he shines. However, his chin really does scare me in this contest. Whittaker has been dropped in all four of his last UFC contests. That is something that cannot be ignored especially in this fight.

Cannonier had knockout power at heavyweight. It’s safe to say that he’s brought that knockout power with him down to the UFC‘s middleweight division. I think Whittaker makes sense on paper, but I have a feeling Cannonier is going to land something big tomorrow afternoon.

Prediction: Jared Cannonier by TKO – Round 2

UFC 254 Preview: Alexander Volkov vs Walt Harris

Alexander Volkov, UFC

There’s a solid heavyweight contest that takes place on the main card of tomorrow’s UFC 254 PPV. That contest is between Alexander Volkov (31-8) and Walt Harris (13-8, 1 NC). Both men are looking to bounce back after losses in their last contests.

Volkov was literally seconds away from a potential UFC heavyweight title shot back in 2018. However, a big right hand from Derrick Lewis changed everything. Back at UFC 229, Volkov was knocked out in the final fifteen seconds of that fight.

Had Volkov won that contest, he probably would have received a title shot. Volkov bounced back against Greg Hardy, but back in June, he was defeated by the heavy wrestling attack of Curtis Blaydes. However, this fight should play to Volkov’s strength which is his striking.

Back in May at UFC on ESPN 8, Walt Harris appeared to be seconds away from getting his third straight first round stoppage. Harris had dropped and badly hurt Alistair Overeem, however, Harris couldn’t quite close the show.

After he couldn’t finish the fight, a tired Harris would get stopped in the second round. Prior to that loss, Harris had knocked out Alexey Oleynik and Sergey Spivak in a combined 62 seconds to vault him into being a top contender.

UFC 254 Prediction

In analyzing this fight, it’s going to come down to the stand up. Harris came out this week and said that he believes he has the best striking in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Volkov laughed at this statement when he heard it.

I will say, Harris has some of the best power in the UFC‘s heavyweight division, however, I can’t say he has the best striking. He absolutely possesses the power to end the fight tomorrow afternoon and that has to count for something.

For Volkov, he’s got to keep this fight on the outside and he needs to get past the first round. If he can do those things, I think he could be well on his way to earning a decision victory at UFC 254. However, that first round is going to be tough.

As we’ve seen, Harris is going to come out very strong. I wouldn’t even be shocked if her hurt Volkov in the opening round. However, if it goes into the second round, Volkov has the advantage to me, and I think this one will ultimately go to the scorecards.

Prediction: Alexander Volkov by Unanimous Decision