The UFC 254 weigh-ins went down at 9 a.m. Abu Dhabi time, 1 a.m. ET (watch the whole thing here) and the first man to walk out and step onto the scales was none other than Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Lightweight champion.
His official weight: 155 pounds on the nose (we think), making his third title defense official for tomorrow afternoon (Sat., Oct. 24, 2020). But, the straight weight doesn’t tell you the entire story of Khabib’s weigh-in. The Dagestani fighter (who has struggled with cutting weight in the past) had to strip naked to make weight and used a balancing arm from the staff to get on and off the scale.
When the official declared him on weight at 155 pounds, he wiped his face in relief and gave a long stare up into the sky.
Watch the moment here:
They're all hard cuts, but was this a harder one for Khabib? No shorts, holding arms to stand on the scale. And the look of relief after getting the official reading of 155. #UFC254pic.twitter.com/80ZKmRKUVr— MMA mania (@mmamania) October 23, 2020
UFC’s United Kingdom broadcast partner BT Sport had Dan Hardy, Nick Peet and Adam Catterall on hand to cover the weigh-ins and they noted the small details as well.
“What do you read into that, Dan?” Peet asked.
“I’m reading he’s going up to Welterweight next fight to fight [Georges St-Pierre],” Hardy joked.
“The incredible amount of relief, it seemed, on his face there,” Peet said. “I didn’t expect that. Even now as we’re looking at the screen there, I didn’t expect that. Even now as we look at the screen just behind there, he looks a little bit drawn, he looks extremely tired. That has been a hard night’s work.”
At the end of the weigh-ins, Hardy expressed some concern regarding Khabib after what he’d seen.
"If we hear the hooter for the fourth round it's all Gaethje for me!"— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 23, 2020
"I'm more 50/50 after seeing Khabib on the scales."@DanHardyMMA and @Peety_Editor give their final thoughts for the #UFC254 main event. pic.twitter.com/CiTOtN7WwV
“I’m a little more 50/50 after seeing Khabib stepping on the scale,” Hardy admitted. “Because I still don’t know the situation with him being so close to the weight and needing the towel. The fact that he was the first one on the scale was still a big statement.”
It’s all pretty important because cardio is key to the gameplans of both main event fighters. Khabib needs his to potentially wrestle his opponent, interim division champion Justin Gaethje, for a full 25 minutes. Gaethje needs his to survive the early onslaught and catch Khabib later.
“If we get into the fourth round it starts to swing toward Gaethje,” Hardy said. “Those first two rounds are going to be very difficult for him to win against Khabib. There’s no doubt about it. And the question is, how does his conditioning hold up after 10 minutes of wrestling. Does he get into the third round with punching power or does he start to look slow and a little bit broken in his conditioning.”
For his part, Gaethje stepped on the scale looking pretty chill and relaxed, hitting 155 pounds effortlessly in his tights.
“That’s one thing we focus on is not making the cuts hard,” Gaethje’s coach Trevor Wittman told the BT Sport crew after Gaethje hit weight. “So we really just take our time and just enjoy the process. We had issues, I wouldn’t say issues, but weight cuts were a lot harder in the World Series [of Fighting] when he was doing it and once he made the cuts easier he realized, ‘Hey this way better for me and I perform better and I save it for the Octagon.’
“So again, I think cutting weight is the most dangerous part of the sport, and I try to advise my athletes — I don’t tell them, I advise them — to be smart with your weight,” he concluded.
What do you think, Maniacs? Does this change your mind on who you think wins Saturday at UFC 254?
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.