UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje Preview

By Kyler Kuehler

UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje will air on October 24, 2020, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Early Preliminary Card (Fight Pass/ESPN+)

JOEL “EL FENOMENO” ALVAREZ (17-2-0) vs ALEXANDER “THUNDER OF THE NORTH” YAKOVLEV (24-9-1)
This is a three-round fight in the lightweight division. Alvarez brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Yakovlev brings striking, sambo, and wrestling. Both have great grappling; Yakovlev is more well-rounded with his. He will use his sambo to take full control early-on. Alvarez will try to keep the fight standing, but he won’t withstand Yakovlev’s takedowns. Yakovlev will dominate him on the ground until he finally gets the submission hold locked in. My prediction: Yakovlev wins via submission in Round 3.

LIANA “MGELI” JOJUA (8-3-0) vs MIRANDA “THE FEAR” MAVERICK (7-2-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s bantamweight division. Jojua brings Muay Thai and judo. Maverick brings kickboxing, Muay Thai, judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Both have great striking abilities; Maverick is better with her ground game. She will bring Jojua to the ground and use her grappling to wear her down. She will then transition into ground-and-pound until Jojua can no longer continue. My prediction: Maverick wins via TKO in Round 3.

UMAR NURMAGOMEDOV (12-0-0) vs SERGEY MOROZOV (16-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Nurmagomedov brings striking, sambo, and wrestling. Morozov brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Morozov will do everything in his power to keep the fight standing and make Nurmagomedov strike with him. Nurmagomedov will be able to bring Morozov to the ground with ease and use his sambo to the fullest. Morozov will try to get back to his feet, but Nurmagomedov will make it impossible to do so. My prediction: Nurmagomedov wins via unanimous decision.

NATHANIEL “THE PROSPECT” WOOD (17-4-0) vs CASEY KENNEY (15-2-1)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Wood brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Kenney brings striking, judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Both are great with their grappling; Kenney is better. His combination of jiu-jitsu and wrestling will place major pressure on Wood. Wood will try to even it up with his jiu-jitsu, but it won’t be enough. Kenney will dominate him throughout the fight without breaking a sweat. My prediction: Kenney wins via unanimous decision.

Preliminary Card (ESPN 2/+)

DA UN JUNG (13-2-0) vs SAM “SMILE’N” ALVEY (33-14-0, 1 NC)
This is a three-round fight in the light heavyweight division. Jung brings striking and grappling. Alvey brings boxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Alvey will look to use his wrestling to bring Jung to the ground right away. Jung will use his takedown defense to keep the fight standing and force Alvey to strike with him. Alvey will do all he can, but Jung will be too fast and powerful for him. Jung will throw heavy hands until Alvey can no longer go on. My prediction: Jung wins via TKO in Round 2.

ALEX “COWBOY” OLIVEIRA (22-8-1, 2 NC) vs SHAVKAT “NOMAD” RAKHMONOV (12-0-0)
This is a three-round fight in the welterweight division. Oliveira brings kickboxing, Muay Thai, and jiu-jitsu. Rakhmonov brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and sambo. The kickboxing and Muay Thai of Oliveira looks to be all he will need to take out Rakhmonov. However, Rakhmonov is a greater grappler and will have no problem bringing Oliveira to the ground. He will then use his sambo to overpower Oliveira and force him to quit. My prediction: Rakhmonov wins via submission in Round 2.

JACOB MLKOUN (4-0-0) vs PHIL “MEGATRON” HAWES (8-2-0)
This is a three-round fight in the middleweight division. Malkoun brings striking and grappling. Hawes brings striking and wrestling. Malkoun will look to keep the fight standing and outstrike Hawes. Hawes will be able to bring Malkoun to the ground with ease by the use of his wrestling. He will then turn the fight into a ground-and-pound beatdown until Malkoun can take no more. My prediction: Hawes wins via TKO in Round 1.

STEFAN “THE SKYSCRAPER” STRUVE (29-12-0) vs TAI “BAM BAM” TUIVASA (8-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the heavyweight division. Struve brings kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. Tuivasa brings boxing and kickboxing. Tuivasa’s striking power looks to be all he will need to take down a giant like Struve. However, Tuivasa lacks grappling and that is where Struve will take advantage of the fight. He will bring Tuivasa to the ground and out grapple him. Tuivasa will try to escape, but he will prove no match against Struve. My prediction: Struve wins via submission in Round 2.

Main Card (Pay-Per-View – ESPN+)

#11 MAGOMED ANKALAEV (14-1-0) vs ION “THE HULK” CUTELABA (15-5-0, 1 NC)
This is a three-round fight in the light heavyweight division. Ankalaev brings striking, sambo, and wrestling. Cutelaba brings striking, sambo, and wrestling. Both are identical in just about every technique; Ankalaev is the better grappler. He will be able to control Cutelaba better and out grapple him more efficiently. Cutelaba will be able to defend and grapple with Ankalaev. He will grow tired faster and it will cost him. My prediction: Ankalaev wins via unanimous decision.

#4 LAUREN “LUCKY” MURPHY (13-4-0) vs LILIYA SHAKIROVA (8-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s flyweight division. Murphy brings boxing and jiu-jitsu. Shakirova brings striking and grappling. Shakirova is one of the toughest females in the sport and looks to give Murphy a true test. Murphy will take some damage, but she will withstand most of Shakirova’s power and counter with her attacks. She will attack with force and not hold anything back throughout the fight. My prediction: Murphy wins via unanimous decision.

#6 ALEXANDER “DRAGO” VOLKOV (31-8-0) vs #8 WALT “THE BIG TICKET” HARRIS (13-8-0, 1 NC)
This is a three-round fight in the heavyweight division. Volkov brings kickboxing, Kyokushin, and jiu-jitsu. He is a former Bellator Heavyweight Champion. Harris brings boxing and kickboxing. Both have striking power and look to prove who hits harder and more efficiently. Harris knows how to overcome odds and takedown bigger opponents, but he doesn’t do so well against experienced fighters. Volkov will use his striking to land heavier blows and his reach will be able to keep Harris at bay. Harris will try for some knee attacks, but Volkov will avoid and continue attacking until Harris goes down. My prediction: Volkov wins via knockout in Round 2.

#1 ROBERT “THE REAPER” WHITTAKER (21-5-0) vs #3 JARED “THE KILLA GORILLA” CANNONIER (13-4-0)
This is a three-round co-main event in the middleweight division. Whittaker brings boxing, hapkido, karate, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. He is a former middleweight champion. Cannonier brings boxing and jiu-jitsu. Whittaker is looking to regain the title and he looks to use his Muay Thai to do it. Cannonier has never faced a power like Whittaker’s before, so it appears as if he is going down in this fight. Cannonier has proven he is no joke and will throw heavy hands at Whittaker. Whittaker will try to finish Cannonier as fast as he can but underestimate his power. My prediction: Cannonier wins via TKO in Round 2.

(C) KHABIB “THE EAGLE” NURMAGOMEDOV (28-0-0) vs (IC)#1 JUSTIN “THE HIGHLIGHT” GAETHJE (22-2-0)
This is a five-round main event for the lightweight championship. Nurmagomedov brings sambo, judo, pankration, and wrestling. He is the current champion. Gaethje brings boxing and wrestling. Gaethje is a tough fighter looking to use his boxing to show Nurmagomedov he is unlike any challenge he has faced before. Nurmagomedov will be watching Gaethje’s attacks, but he won’t have to worry about them. He will be able to bring Gaethje to the ground and use his sambo to total domination. Gaethje will defend a little with his wrestling, but not for long. He will grow weak faster and not be able to withstand the aggression Nurmagomedov brings with his sambo. My prediction: Nurmagomedov wins via submission in Round 2.