Undefeated Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0), is up against his most challenging stylist match up to date in the form of Justin Gaethje — a decorated collegiate wrestling Division I All-American (and reigning 155-pound interim kingpin) — in the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event of UFC 254, emanating live from inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this afternoon (Oct. 24, 2020).
As usual, the challenger, Gaethje, was the first to make the walk to the cage:
And then Khabib:
Gaethje keeping his distance early, likely not in any rush to start wrestling. He fired off a low kick as Khabib started to ease his way closer. Gaethje whiffed on a low kick, but then scored with a different one moments later. Khabib scored with shot upstairs, with Gaethje countering in kind, but neither fighter was affected. Khabib started to pick up the pace, pumping the jab in an effort to close the distance. Gaethje started to launch overhand shots, head down, looking to remain upright. Khabib scored with a knee and Gaethje really started to look uncomfortable as Khabib gave chase. Gaethje with a nice left hook, but Khabib kept coming forward. Then a body shot, right cross, but Khabib kept coming. Front kicks and combinations from Khabib finally opened up the opportunity for Khabib to get Gaethje to the ground. He wrapped up his legs, then slid into mount effortlessly, angling to an armbar as the round came to a close. Huge round for Khabib, but he’s playing a dangerous stand up game early.
Gaethje’s corner begging for more lower leg kicks, claiming that Khabib was already compromised. Khabib started with several low kicks early though, firing off those jabs as Gaethje countered with a hard left. Then he landed another leg kick, which appeared to hurt Khabib. Then in a scramble on the ground, Khabib was able to quickly gain full mount. He then angled for an armbar, but it was a triangle choke in disguise, which Gaethje apparently didn’t see coming. He sat back with it and Gaethje offered up little defense — it was locked in tight. It looked like Gaethje tried to tap, but the referee didn’t see it. And, as a result, he went down for an early nap. No harm, no foul — Gaethje was awake seconds later, while Khabib collapsed in the center of the Octagon ... a total emotional wreck after losing his father just three months ago.
Final result: Khabib submits Gaethje via triangle choke in round two
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