UFC 254 went down yesterday (Oct. 24, 2020) inside Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in what was Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) final event on “Fight Island” (for 2020 that is). The event featured a Lightweight title unification bout that saw Khabib Nurmagomedov defeat Justin Gaethje via second round submission (see it again here). In the co-main event, Robert Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier to earn his right to face current Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.
Biggest Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov
It was yet another dominant performance for “The Eagle,” who choked out one of the hardest hitters in the game to score consecutive win No. 29, and the third defense of his Lightweight title. After the fight, Khabib shocked the world by announcing his retirement, one fight sooner than many were expecting. With the announcement, we see the end of one of the best careers the sport has ever seen, and he gets to leave as an undefeated champion (29-0, 13-0 UFC). He will go into the UFC Hall of Fame, go down as one of the — if not the greatest fighter of all time — and will walk away knowing he had nothing left to prove. The only sad part is that it seems we didn’t get to see enough of “The Eagle.” Nevertheless, Nurmagomedov can now ride off into the sunset knowing that not only did he do everything the right way inside the Octagon, but outside of it, as well.
Runner Up: Robert Whittaker
Just in case everybody thought Whittaker going to be reduced to being a gatekeeper, he reminded the fight world that he is still a threat to anyone who stands across from him. After losing his title to Adesanya last year, he bounced back with a win over Darren Till. But his performance against Cannonier was pretty flawless, earning him a unanimous decision win and more than likely another shot at trying to reclaim the 185-pound title. He moves to 11-1 since 2014, a stellar run that was only disrupted by “The Last Stylebender,” who has taken out everybody standing in front of him. Now that Whittaker has been in there with Adesanya, perhaps he can take the lessons he learned from that loss and adapt them into the rematch to his advantage.
Biggest Loser: Jacob Malkoun
Yes, there were others who suffered devastating losses, such as Stefan Struve, who was knocked out for the second time in two fights after Tai Tuivasa ended his night in round one (see it). And Walt Harris, who suffered his second straight knockout defeat after getting kicked right in the gut by Alexander Volkov (video highlights). But, I am going with Malkoun here for the simple fact that he was knocked out in just 18 seconds. He didn’t get to throw a punch, he didn’t get to sweat before Phil Hawes ended his night thanks a hard right and follow up punches. That’s not the first impression you wants to make to your new employer, and not the way you want to lose your first fight, and on the biggest stage of them all no less. On the other hand, it was a great debut for Hawes!
For complete UFC 254 results and coverage click here.