UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje was a mixed martial arts event produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship that took place on October 24, 2020 at the du Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.[3][4][5]

UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje
The poster for UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje
PromotionUltimate Fighting Championship
DateOctober 24, 2020 (2020-10-24)
Venuedu Forum
CityAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
AttendanceNone (behind closed doors)[1]
Event chronology
UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Silva

Background edit

The event proceeded with local timing for prime time hours. The main card began at 10:00 pm (October 24) local time in Abu Dhabi, with a full preliminary card beginning at approximately 6:15 pm Gulf Standard Time.[6]

A UFC Lightweight Championship unification bout between current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje (also former WSOF Lightweight Champion) served as the event headliner.[7] The bout was briefly linked to UFC 253, but the date did not materialize and instead took place four weeks later.[8] On September 17, the UFC announced the signing of former three-time Bellator Lightweight World Champion Michael Chandler, who served as backup and a potential replacement for this fight.[9]

Khabib Nurmagomedov held a perfect 28–0 record leading into the event.[10]

A middleweight bout between former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier was initially scheduled to take place at UFC 248 in March. However, Whittaker pulled out due to personal reasons.[11] The pairing was rescheduled for this event.[12]

Despite never being officially announced, a featherweight bout between The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America featherweight winner Yair Rodríguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov was expected to take place at the event.[13] The pairing had been scheduled on two previous occasions, first at UFC 228 in September 2018 and then at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić in August. However, Rodríguez pulled out of both events with injury.[14][15][16]

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.[17] Due to the controversy of the stoppage, the UFC booked the rematch for UFC 249, on its original April 18 date.[18] However, Ankalaev was forced to pull out of the event due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] 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.[20] Cuțelaba tested positive yet again on the day of the event, resulting in another cancellation of this fight.[21] In turn, they were rescheduled for a third time and met at this event.[22] Promotional newcomer Isi Fitikefu weighed in as an alternate for this bout.[23]

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos was expected to face Shavkat Rakhmonov in a welterweight bout at the event.[24] However, dos Santos pulled out in late September due to a knee injury that would require surgery.[25] He was replaced by Alex Oliveira.[26]

A lightweight bout between former champion Rafael dos Anjos and Islam Makhachev was expected to take place at the event.[27] However, it was announced on October 8 that dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from the bout.[28] A replacement could not be found and Makhachev was also removed from the event.[29] The pairing was left intact and rescheduled for November 14 at UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. dos Anjos.[30]

Cynthia Calvillo and former Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion Lauren Murphy were scheduled to meet in a women's flyweight bout at the event.[31] However, Calvillo withdrew from the bout on October 15 after testing positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by promotional newcomer Liliya Shakirova.[32]

A bantamweight bout between Umar Nurmagomedov and Sergey Morozov was expected to take place at the event. However, it was announced on October 18 that Nurmagomedov had been hospitalized due to an illness and the bout was scrapped.[33] Morozov remained as an alternate for the catchweight bout of 140 pounds between Nathaniel Wood and Casey Kenney.[34]

At the weigh-ins, Alex Oliveira and Joel Álvarez missed weight for their respective bouts. Oliveira weighed in at 173 pounds, two pounds over the welterweight non-title fight limit. Álvarez weighed in at 159.5 pounds, three and a half pounds over the lightweight non-title fight limit. Both of their bouts proceeded at catchweight and they were each fined 20% and 30% of their individual purses respectively, which went to their opponents Shavkat Rakhmonov and Alexander Yakovlev.[23]

Results edit

Main card
Weight class Method Round Time Notes
Lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) def. Justin Gaethje (ic) Technical Submission (triangle choke) 2 1:34 [a]
Middleweight Robert Whittaker def. Jared Cannonier Decision (unanimous) (29–28, 29–28, 29–28) 3 5:00
Heavyweight Alexander Volkov def. Walt Harris TKO (body kick and punches) 2 1:15
Middleweight Phil Hawes def. Jacob Malkoun KO (punches) 1 0:18
Women’s Flyweight Lauren Murphy def. Liliya Shakirova Submission (rear-naked choke) 2 3:31
Light Heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev def. Ion Cuțelaba KO (punches) 1 4:19
Preliminary card (ESPN2 / ESPN+)
Heavyweight Tai Tuivasa def. Stefan Struve KO (punches) 1 4:59
Catchweight (140 lb) Casey Kenney def. Nathaniel Wood Decision (unanimous) (29–28, 29–28, 30–27) 3 5:00
Catchweight (173 lb) Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Alex Oliveira Submission (guillotine choke) 1 4:40
Light Heavyweight Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey Draw (split) (29–28, 28–29, 28–28) 3 5:00
Early preliminary card (ESPN2 / ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Women's Flyweight Miranda Maverick def. Liana Jojua TKO (doctor stoppage) 1 5:00
Catchweight (159.5 lb) Joel Álvarez def. Alexander Yakovlev Submission (armbar) 1 3:00


Bonus awards edit

The following fighters received $50,000 bonuses.[36]

  • Fight of the Night: Casey Kenney vs. Nathaniel Wood
  • Performance of the Night: Khabib Nurmagomedov and Magomed Ankalaev

Aftermath edit

In Khabib Nurmagomedov’s post-fight interview, he announced his retirement from mixed martial arts and explained that he had promised his mother that he would not continue to fight without his late father (who died from complications related to an existing heart condition while positive with COVID-19 in July). "Today I want to say it was my last fight. No way I'm gonna come here without my father," Nurmagomedov said. "It was first time after what happened with my father. When UFC called me with Justin, I talked with my mother three days. She don't (want me) to go fight without father, but I promised her it's gonna be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this."[37]

Viewership edit

Just three days prior to fight night, UFC officials said they had tracked media coverage for the card in more than 50 countries, totaling more than 23 million impressions.[38]

In Russia, UFC 254 was aired on REN TV, where it drew more than 10.8 million viewers on live television, ranking first place in Russian television ratings. The event was watched by 19.2% of the 25-54 age demographic in Russia, including 25.7% of males in that demographic. In the capital city Moscow, the event was watched by 19.8% of the 25-54 age demographic, including 26.8% of males in that demographic.[39]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Marc Williams (2020-09-14). "UFC schedule 2020: Every upcoming event including Israel Adesanya's UFC 253 fight in Abu Dhabi and Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje". talksport.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  2. ^ Damon Martin (2020-10-29). "UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje reportedly sells 500K pay-per-view buys in the U.S." mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  3. ^ Don Riddell, Glen Levy and Ben Church (2020-07-28). "Khabib Nurmagomedov to fight Justin Gaethje in October return, says UFC president Dana White". cnn.com. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  4. ^ Guilherme Cruz (2020-09-04). "UFC 253 kicks off Fight Island return in Abu Dhabi". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  5. ^ Brett Okamoto (2020-09-04). "Sources: UFC 253, 254 to be held at Fight Island". espn.com. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  6. ^ Press Release (2020-09-17). "UFC Fight Island - Everything you need to know". ufc.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  7. ^ Simon Head (2020-07-28). "Dana White announces Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje for Oct. 24". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  8. ^ Staff (2020-07-22). "Khabib's manager insists Justin Gaethje bout will still happen in 2020". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  9. ^ Staff (2020-09-17). "Michael Chandler signs with UFC, will serve as backup for Khabib-Gaethje at UFC 254". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  10. ^ Ryan Harkness (2020-10-23). "UFC 254 predictions, preview, and analysis". mmamania.com. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  11. ^ Nolan King (2020-01-15). "Robert Whittaker out of UFC 248 fight against Jared Cannonier". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  12. ^ Nolan King (2020-08-01). "Ex-champ Robert Whittaker meets Jared Cannonier at UFC 254". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  13. ^ Cole Shelton (2020-08-14). "Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Yair Rodriguez rescheduled for UFC 254". bjpenn.com. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  14. ^ Harry Davies (2018-08-23). "Injury forces Yair Rodriguez out of UFC 228 fight vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  15. ^ Nolan King (2020-08-04). "Dana White confirms Yair Rodriguez injured, out of fight vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  16. ^ Damon Martin (2020-08-10). "Zabit Magomedsharipov announces he will not fight on Aug. 29, returning to Russia for now". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  17. ^ Damon Martin (2020-02-29). "UFC Norfolk results: Magomed Ankalaev earns KO over Ion Cutelaba in highly controversial stoppage". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  18. ^ Damon Martin (2020-03-05). "Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev re-booked for UFC 249 following controversial stoppage". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  19. ^ Alexander K. Lee (2020-04-06). "UFC 249 fight card announced, Andrade vs. Namajunas 2 still co-headlines". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  20. ^ Steven Marrocco and Damon Martin (2020-08-11). "Ion Cuțelaba tests positive for COVID-19, rematch against Magomed Ankalaev bumped from UFC 252 to August 29 event". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  21. ^ Mike Bohn (2020-08-29). "Ion Cutelaba tests positive for COVID-19, Magomed Ankalaev rematch off UFC on ESPN+ 33". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  22. ^ Zane Simon (2020-09-09). "Fifth time's a charm - UFC re-books Cutelaba vs. Ankalaev again". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  23. ^ a b Staff (2020-10-23). "UFC 254 weigh-in results: Khabib needs the towel, but makes weight for title fight". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  24. ^ Staff (2020-09-11). "Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov added to UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi". mmadna.nl. Retrieved 2020-09-11. (in Dutch)
  25. ^ Diego Ribas and Natássia del Fischer (2020-09-30). "Elizeu 'Capoeira' injuries his knee ligament and is out of UFC 254". agfight.com. Retrieved 2020-09-30. (in Portuguese)
  26. ^ Natássia del Fischer (2020-10-07). "Alex 'Cowboy' replaces Elizeu 'Capoeira' and faces undefeated rival at UFC 254". uol.com.br. Retrieved 2020-10-07. (in Portuguese)
  27. ^ Farah Hannoun and Mike Bohn (2020-08-20). "Rafael dos Anjos returns to lightweight, meets Islam Makhachev at UFC 254". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  28. ^ Newswire (2020-10-08). "Rafael dos Anjos announces COVID-19 positive, scratch from UFC 254". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  29. ^ Tristen Critchfield (2020-10-14). "Islam Makhachev won't receive replacement opponent at UFC 254". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  30. ^ Staff (2020-10-20). "Islam Makhachev vs. Rafael Dos Anjos rescheduled, this time for November 14th". mmadna.nl. Retrieved 2020-10-20. (in Dutch)
  31. ^ Jose Youngs and Mike Heck (2020-08-13). "Cynthia Calvillo vs. Lauren Murphy in the works for UFC 254". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  32. ^ Brett Okamoto (2020-10-15). "Cynthia Calvillo withdraws from UFC 254 bout with Lauren Murphy, replaced by Liliya Shakirova". espn.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  33. ^ Simon Head (2020-10-18). "Umar Nurmagomedov hospitalized in Dubai, ruled out of octagon debut at UFC 254". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  34. ^ Zain Bando (2020-10-23). "UFC 254: Who is bantamweight prospect Sergey Morozov?". fansided.com. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  35. ^ "UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje". Ultimate Fighting Championship. 29 July 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  36. ^ Dave Doyle (2020-10-24). "UFC 254 bonuses: Khabib earns 'Performance of the Night' in final fight". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  37. ^ Dave Doyle (2020-10-24). "Khabib Nurmagomedov dominates Justin Gaethje, retires after UFC 254 submission win". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  38. ^ John Morgan (2020-10-21). "Dana White reveals trending numbers that qualify Khabib vs. Gaethje as UFC blockbuster". mmajunkie.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  39. ^ "Бой Нурмагомедова с Гэтжи принес РЕН ТВ первое место в рейтинге" [Nurmagomedov's fight with Gaethje brought REN TV first place in the rankings] (in Russian). REN TV. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.