Sitting here, drinking coffee out of something I took from the NHL cafeteria about a half-decade ago and preparing to call live play-by-play for UFC 254 this afternoon (2 p.m. ET start time!) on Combat Culture’s YouTube channel, I got to thinking.
“Self, what are things that only happen in a fixed period of time?”
Presidential elections, Canelo Alvarez fights ... and Khabib Nurmagomedov fights. While one of those three things will be protracted in a courtroom as Canelo Alvarez sues DAZN, Oscar De La Hoya, and anyone who stands in the way of him punching great boxers about the face, neck and chest, we are literally just hours away from Khabib’s third defense of the UFC Lightweight championship, taking on interim 155-pound kingpin, Justin Gaethje, in a mouth-watering title unification match scheduled for five rounds.
This is not the reign we were expecting, a caustic (and controversial) reign that has included riots, injuries, protracted negotiations, a global pandemic, and the ghost of Tony Ferguson haunting the division.
Khabib is supposed to be the warrior king of mixed martial arts (MMA), and for the most part he is. Dominating every opponent, instilling his will, curating a legacy of hall of fame victories, but … why doesn’t it feel that way to me?
It does in some ways, but you keep running back the fact that this is a guy who says he might retire soon (or not?), which acts as the sword of Damocles over the head of anyone watching this weight class.
I can’t shake that, and I can’t shake the idea that it is, in fact, not a hollow threat.
It honestly reminds me of Georges St-Pierre, a dominant champion who walked away from the sport twice and who has an undeniable legacy, but there’s that sour taste in your mouth wanting something more.
When Jay-Z retired — the first time — we got the Black Album, one of the best albums in hip hop history. Is Khabib’s fight against Gaethje his Black Album? Will he go all out? Will he fight a new style? Will he change it up and try to test Gaethje standing? Or will he play the hits?
We’re going to just have to wait and find out ...
Watch me and Harry, while Steph runs the live chat at TWO O’CLOCK this afternoon (Sat., Oct. 24, 2020) for wall-to-wall coverage of UFC 254 across the Combat Culture face-punching network.
Remember, too, that 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.