UFC 254: Live Updates and Scores

Khabib Nurmagomedov, left, and Justin Gaethje will fight on Saturday for the U.F.C.’s 155-pound championship.

Submission of throttle

Shaukat Rakhmonov

Defeats

Alex Oliveira

Coming

Alex Oliveira

against.

Shaukat Rakhmonov

Split drawing

Da Eun Joong

against.

Sam Alfie

Saturday’s card was due to include a light match between prospective Islam Makhachev and Rafael dos Angus, a veteran Brazilian. But dos Angus tested positive for the Coronavirus before traveling to Abu Dhabi from California, where he lives and trains.

Unable to bring in a substitute on short notice, the UFC withdrew the match from the card.

Makhachev and Dos Angus are now scheduled to meet on November 14th in Las Vegas.

Nurmagomedov told reporters this week that he is only focusing on his title defense against Githji, but other fights – and other fighters – still loom heavily over the main event on Saturday.

Tony Ferguson, who was defeated by Geithje for the Championship title, told reporters this week that he wanted his long-awaited shot at Nurmagomedov. The two men were matched four times, with every match canceled for reasons ranging from a knee injury to the coronavirus pandemic.

In ESPN’s “First Snapshot”, Nurmagomedov vehemently rejected a proposal to fight Conor McGregor again.

Coming

Da Eun Joong

against.

Sam Alfie

Technical Knockout

Miranda Maverick

Defeats

Liana Jojo

Coming

Liana Jojo

against.

Miranda Maverick

Introducing the Armbar

Joel Alvarez

Defeats

Alexander Yakovlev

Nurmagomedov, 32, is a stifling fighter who completes his relentless wrestling with punches and kicks in good standing. His 28-0 record is rare in a sport in which the elites are pushed to fight the major competition.

“I know he knows how to wrestle,” said Nurmagomedov of Gethje. “But what about wrestling for 25 minutes?”

Geithji, 31, was an all-American wrestler in his freshman year at University of Northern Colorado. But as a mixed martial artist, he prefers high-impact, crowd-pleasing hits. Against Nurmagomedov, Gaithy is intent on wrestling enough to keep fighting on his terms, and he has said that he didn’t even study Nurmagomedov’s video during the training camp.

“I always focus on being my best self,” said Geithji. I won’t let him put me on the fence. If I do, then I am troubled. “

When the New York State Athletic Commission refused to approve Nurmagomedov-Ferguson in April as coronavirus cases swept New York City, the UFC began an intense search for a new location, with a cozy local committee allowing for fights during the pandemic. White mentioned the possibility of a private island for fighters stationed outside the United States, and the UFC also devised a plan to take the Nurmagomedov-Ferguson fight to a arena on Native American tribe land in California.

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The card eventually landed in Jacksonville, Florida, with Gethje being replaced by Ferguson. By June, the UFC and the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism announced that they would collaborate in a restricted environment on Yas Island, with the UFC hosting four events over a two-week period in mid-July.

After hosting 15 events at Apex, a UFC-owned training center and venue in Las Vegas, in August and September, the company returned to Abu Dhabi to acquire five more cards, including Saturday’s fights at UFC 254.

The status is serviceable – allowing the UFC to stick to their schedule and bring the fights to their TV partner, ESPN. White proudly notes that the company did not have to lay off employees during the pandemic.

But it’s not ideal for one of the biggest fights of the year, especially when the original plan included filling up the NFL stadium.

“If the world returns to normal, these fights could happen anywhere,” White said. “This was without a doubt the most challenging year of my career, but it was also the most rewarding.”

Nurmagomedov, the 155-pound UFC champion, has only competed twice in the past 24 months, partly due to the pandemic. His final victory came with the introduction of Dustin Poirer in the third round in September 2019.

Last October, he fisted McGregor in the fourth round of the grudge match, pinching McGregor’s neck and jawing until he gave up. After the last bell, Nurmagomedov plunged in attendance to fight the teasers from MacGregor’s entourage, sparking a brawl that led to both fighters being suspended in Nevada.

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During Nurmagomedov’s absence, Gaethje’s image grew. He stepped in to Nurmagomedov and fired Ferguson, earning the UFC Interim Lightweight Title. That was guaranteeing Geithje a shot at Nurmagomedov for the undisputed belt.

From a business standpoint, White insists Nurmagomedov comes with a built-in audience of paying customers, even if coronavirus restrictions prevent them from viewing in person.

Nurmagomedov has 22 million followers on Instagram, and White said a recent video of Nurmagomedov on the UFC’s Facebook page had collected more than 100 million views. He also said that Nurmagomedov’s character was the most popular choice by online players in the UFC video game.

Although most UFC pay-per-view events, regardless of where they happen, happen during prime hours for American viewers, the main card starts for Saturday at 2 PM ET. This starting time is best suited for Nurmagomedov fans in Russia and the Republic of Dagestan, where he grew up. Pay-per-view will also start at 10pm local time in Abu Dhabi, where Nurmagomedov defeated Poirier and where he trained for this fight.

White said at this week’s press conference: “Apparently, people in this field don’t know this, but Khabib is one of the biggest stars in the sport, not just the UFC.” “I could only try the numbers all day.”

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