UFC 254: Khabib VS Gaethje Picks, Predictions and Match Details

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje is the main event at UFC 254 betting on Saturday, October 24 at Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

This is one of the most highly-anticipated fights of the year with current interim champ Justin Gaethje facing the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight championship unification bout. UFC odds have Khabib as a -310 favorite while Gaethje comes back at +240.

We break down the UFC betting odds for this lightweight title fight and give our best picks and predictions for UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje.


Method of Victory Khabib Nurmagomedov Justin Gaethje
Win outright -310 +240
Win by KO/TKO +420 +360
Win by points +230 +900
Win by submission +210 +2,600
Draw +5,000 +5,000



Event:  UFC 254

Match Between: Khabib vs Gaethje

Date: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2020


The undisputed lightweight championship of the world will be on the line on October 24 when Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to add another victory to his perfect 28-0 record as he defends his title for the third time against interim titleholder Justin Gaethje.



Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is widely considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history. The 32-year-old is a perfect 28-0 in his MMA career, including a 12-0 record at the UFC level.

The biggest win of Khabib’s career was a dominating performance against Conor McGregor in 2018, but he hasn’t fought in 13 months since submitting Dustin Poirier at UFC 242. Since then the Dagestani native has been unable to defend his title due to COVID-19 restrictions and the death of his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

Khabib is a more than capable striker but it’s his wrestling that has made him unbeatable. He’s a takedown machine and once he gets the fight to the mat he utilizes his brutal strength to establishes control, where he can rain down blows on his defenseless opponent or pull off a submission.

Gaethje is an underdog in this fight, but that’s a familiar role for the Arizona local, who was listed at +150 when he upset Tony Ferguson for the interim championship in May. Gaethje has incredible power in his hands and has a career 22-2 record with a whopping 19 knockouts. Each of his last 11 fights has ended via KO or TKO.

Gaethje is more than just a power-puncher though: he is a very strong technical boxer with great footwork and excellent use of leg kicks to set up his combinations. While he prefers to keep fights standing up, he was an NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Northern Colorado — so he is capable on the ground.


Khabib Nurmagomedov Justin Gaethje
32 Age 31
5-foot-10 Height 5-foot-11
155 lbs Weight 155 lbs
70 inches Reach 70 inches
28-0 (8 KO) Record 22-2 (19 KO)


PREDICTION: Nurmagomedov to win (-310) – Gaethje has a clear path to victory in this fight: keep it standing up, disrupt Khabib’s timing with leg kicks and land those big left hooks and right hands that wrecked Ferguson. However, all those things are easier said than done against Khabib.

Khabib’s standup isn’t on nearly the same level as Gaethje’s but it has come a long way since he entered the UFC, and the fact that his opponents always have to be wary of takedown attempts makes it more difficult to defend against his strikes.

Gaethje has strong takedown defense but Khabib averages an absurd 5.09 takedowns per 15 minutes and will just keep shooting until he brings this fight to the ground.

From there he will use his vice-like grip, technique and cardio to impose himself on Gaethje, who has never faced a grappler of this caliber before. Khabib, on the other hand, has faced elite strikers like MacGregor, Poirier and Edson Barboza, dismantling all of them.

PREDICTION: Nurmagomedov to win by submission or points (-160) – One fact you will hear repeatedly leading up this fight is Gaethje’s wrestling pedigree as an All-American at Northern Colorado and how that could neutralize Khabib. But a background in wrestling doesn’t always prepare someone for grappling in an MMA bout, especially if it’s a skill they haven’t used much in the octagon.

Keep in mind two of Khabib’s first UFC fights, against Kamal Shalorus and Abel Trujillo. As a wrestler, Shalorus had made it into the qualifying stage for the Olympics with Great Britain while Trujillo was a four-time NAIA All-American at William Penn University. Both fighters were dominated on the ground by Khabib and he’s even better at this stage of his career.

Look for Khabib to control this fight on the mat and grind out a win either via decision or a late-round submission.

PREDICTION: Total Rounds Over 3.5 (+100) – Gaethje has terrific knockout power, but he isn’t a hyper-aggressive fighter that throws everything at his opponents in the early rounds. He’s also taking on a strong defensive fighter with a granite chin in Khabib.

Khabib may have ended his previous fight in the third round but prior to that, the Eagle had three consecutive fights go at least a full three rounds. Khabib isn’t the sort of fighter that hunts for a stoppage early in the fight, preferring to finish his tired opponents later on. Look for this bout to make it into the championship rounds.

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