Like us, we really wanted to see Khabib face-off with Tony Ferguson but the MMA universe works in mysterious ways and this main event could prove to be even better – maybe not for Khabib.

UFC 254

Main Card (BT Sport Box Office HD)
Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) Vs. Justin Gaethje (ic) (Lightweight)
Warriors collide in a truly mouth-watering main event as 28-0 grappling juggernaut Khabib Nurmagomedov attempts to stop MMA wrecking machine Justin Gaethje from taking the UFC lightweight belt from his firm grip. An important factor here is that this will be the first time since his passing, that Khabib has competed and not his father in the corner. Will this affect him? Perhaps it will drive him even more? Time will surely tell. Known for his highlight reel knockouts, Gaethje’s ‘kill or be killed’ attitude in the octagon has made him a fan favourite – but also secured him some serious victories over solid names in the process. One thing to remember is that Gathje is a super talented wrestler (often forgotten about when you see him head hunting so often) and we are intrigued to see how this one pans out. We were surprised at how well Al Aiquinta did, deep down we knew McGregor would get beat and we thought Poirier was going to fair better. So what can the man from the Safford, Arizona produce? Well, we cannot wait to find out but know that it will probably end with his back being taken, and him being subbed.
WINNER: Nurmagomedov
METHOD: Submission

Robert Whittaker Vs. Jared Cannonier (Middleweight)
Arguably Cannonier’s toughest fight to date since moving down to middleweight, this will be a real test, against a former champion, hungry to prove he is still a contender for the belt. The ‘Killa Gorilla’ will be an underdog with the bookies, but he seems like a different fighter at this weight and for sure we run the risk of getting this totally wrong, we think he will be too much for Whittaker.
WINNER: Cannonier

Alexander Volkov Vs. Walt Harris (Heavyweight)
Although he did start well, you cannot help but think Harris’ head was not fully in the game in his loss to Overeem in May this year. If you have seen recent videos, Harris seems to be doing a lot better since going through such tragedy and could come into this one with a different mind-set. Time will tell against seasoned kickboxer Volkov, who will be looking to keep this fight standing for three rounds.
WINNER: Harris

Jacob Malkoun Vs. Phil Hawes (Middleweight)
Another product of Dana White’s Contender Series who gets the opportunity to prove himself. We all know that sometimes this goes terribly wrong but Hawes seems legit, and should be okay here against a relatively inexperienced debutant.

Lauren Murphy Vs. Liliya Shakirova (Women’s Flyweight)
Originally scheduled to fight Cynthia Calvillo (withdrawn for undisclosed reasons) the former TUF contestant finds herself facing unheard of Liliya Shakirova. Each time Lauren Murphy fights, she is the underdog, but has proved to us, and many others that she means business, and should not be overlooked.
WINNER: Murphy
METHOD: Decision

Magomed Ankalaev Vs. Ion Cutelaba (Light Heavyweight)
Having only just faced each other in February this quick rematch is based on the fact Cutelaba profusely disagreed with the stoppage in their first meeting. Will Ankalaev finish what he started? Probably not as it is rare rematches end the same way, but he should get the win.
WINNER: Ankalaev
METHOD: Decision

Preliminary Card (BT Sport 2)
Stefan Struve Vs Tai Tuivasa (Heavyweight)
An interesting one here because you have two UFC veterans who have reached a point in their careers where they just can’t seem to find their grooves. Granted, Struve did get a submission over Rogerio de Lima, but he came back down to earth with a bang, getting wiped out by Ben Rothwell. Prior to that, he had lost three in a row, which is where his opponent finds himself now. A must win for Tuivasa (he may get a lifeline on a Oz or NZ card next year) but he is prone to gassing and a mistake in the last round could see him fall into a submission trap.
WINNER: Struve
METHOD: Submission

Alex Oliveira Vs. Shavkat Rakmonov
Even though this is the first time UFC newcomer Rakmonov has fought in 2021, his 12-0 record can’t be ignored. Racking up knockouts like they are going out of fashion (including tapout due to strikes); Oliveira cannot overlook a wrecking machine that is coming his way. If the Brazilian is going to win, it will be in the later rounds when Rakmonov is using his emergency batteries but we can’t see this one going the distance.
WINNER: Rakmonov

Da Ung Jung Vs. Sam Alvey
His days of smiling may not be over, but his UFC career will probably be after this. After a decent career, unfortunately it is the end of the road for Alvey.
WINNER: Da Ung Jung
METHOD: Decision

Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Nathaniel Wood Vs. Casey Kenney (Catchweight 140 lb)
Wood has not quite lit up the UFC in the way we thought he might. The London based fighter is still relatively unknown by a lot of casual fans and finds himself at the bottom of the bill once again. We are still backing him for big things, and although this could be an extremely awkward night at the office for the Brit, a submission victory is not out of the question.
METHOD: Submission

Liana Jojua Vs. Miranda Maverick (Women's Flyweight)
A battle of two very young athletes with Jojua at 25 and newcomer Maverick only 23. Maverick has beaten some veterans during her Invicta spell and may well scrape a decision but ultimately, this one may come down to experience and the ability to handle the occasion.
METHOD: Submission

Joel Álvarez Vs. Alexander Yakovlev (Lightweight)
A great bout to kick the evening (or should we say very early morning depending on where you are watching from). Yakovlev struggles against decent ground fighters and could end up being submitted or losing on points. Either way Alverez takes this one.
WINNER: Alverez
METHOD: Submission

UFC 254 WILD CARD BET: Gaithje to beat Nurmagomedov via KO/TKO

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