The UFC’s return to Fight Island, which took up part of September and most of October, came to a close Saturday with UFC 254. A card built around a single, compelling fight: the lightweight title unification bout between interim champ Justin Gaethje, and champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
It’s a fight that, up until May, didn’t feel like a possibility. It was supposed to be Tony Ferguson getting the next title shot against Khabib. But that fight fell through an improbable fifth time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gaethje stepped in to replace the champ at UFC 249, and took Ferguson to the limit, picking him apart, battering him as the fight drew on. In the end, it was a fifth round TKO for Gaethje, in the best performance of his career.
Suddenly, Khabib vs. Gaethje was the biggest fight you could make. The Colorado-based fighter may hold the key to defeating the Dagestani champ: heavy hands, but high-level wrestling to back it up. On the other hand, there’s a number. 28. As in 28-0, the record “The Eagle” had posted to date. Undefeated throughout his career, having barely lost a round.
It’s a daunting task.
We’ll get the answer as to whether Justin Gaethje is up to the challenge in the main event on Saturday. Following that, tune in for the post-fight press conference, scheduled to kick off at 5:15PM ET. A live stream is available above.