UFC wraps up its second run on UFC FIGHT ISLAND with one of the most anticipated bouts of the year as UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje battle to unify the belts. In the co-main event, former middleweight champion and No. 1 ranked Robert Whittaker takes on No. 3 Jared Cannonier in a pivotal bout with title implications.
UFC 254: KHABIB vs. GAETHJE will take place Saturday, October 24 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island and will stream live on Pay-Per-View, exclusively through ESPN+ in the U.S. at a special broadcast time of 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT in both English and Spanish. The prelims will be simulcast on ESPN2 and ESPN+ (English and Spanish) beginning at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT with the early prelims kicking off at 10:15 a.m. ET /7:15 p.m. PT simulcast on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass. The event is in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
Undefeated champion Nurmagomedov (28-0, fighting out of Dagestan, Russia) looks to put on another dominant performance and once again prove he is the best lightweight on the planet. Nurmagomedov is currently tied for the longest active win streak in the UFC with an impressive 12 victories in a row, which includes finishes over former champion Conor McGregor and former interim champion Dustin Poirier. He now seeks to extend his streak to 13 with a statement performance over Gaethje and make his case as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Gaethje (22-2, fighting out of Arvada, Colo.) has become a fan favorite for the relentless and entertaining fight style that has earned him nine UFC post-fight bonuses in just seven fights. A proven finisher with a remarkable 20 of his 22 wins coming by stoppage, Gaethje rose through the lightweight ranks with knockouts over Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson. He now looks to realize his ultimate goal of attaining the undisputed UFC lightweight championship by becoming the first person to defeat Nurmagomedov.
Former UFC middleweight champion Whittaker (22-5, fighting out of Sydney, Australia) intends to continue his journey back to the title with his second marquee win of the year. The first Australian UFC champion, Whittaker initially made waves by winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in 2012. After moving up to the middleweight division, he went on an eight-fight win streak to capture the title, which included spectacular performances against Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza and Derek Brunson. He now aims to keep his momentum going against Cannonier and cement himself as the No. 1 contender for the belt.
Former heavyweight Cannonier (13-4, fighting out of Anchorage, Alaska) seeks to claim the most important win of his career and secure his first UFC title shot. After moving down to the middleweight division, Cannonier quickly established himself as a top contender with stoppage victories over David Branch, Jack Hermansson and former champion Anderson Silva. He now has his sights set on landing another signature knockout against Whittaker and seizing his spot at the top of the rankings.
Additional bouts on the card include:
- Top 10 heavyweights face off asNo. 6 ranked Alexander Volkov (31-8, fighting out of Moscow, Russia) battles No. 8 Walt Harris (13-8 1 NC, fighting out of Birmingham, Ala.)
- No. 2 ranked women’s flyweight Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.) and No. 4 ranked Lauren Murphy (13-4, fighting out of Glendale, Ariz.) look to make a statement and earn their first UFC title shot
- No. 11 ranked light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev (13-1, fighting out of Makhachkala, Russia) and Ion Cutelaba (15-5, fighting out of Chisinau, Maldova) finally meet in a highly anticipated bout guaranteed to deliver action
- Stefan Struve (33-12, fighting out of Beverwijk, The Netherlands) locks horns with Tai Tuivasa (10-3, fighting out of Western Sydney, Australia) in a heavyweight bout
- In a clash of UFC newcomers, Jacob Malkoun (4-0, fighting out of Sydney, Australia) meets Dana White’s Contender Series signee Phillip Hawes (8-2, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) at middleweight
- In an exciting welterweight bout, Alex Oliveira (22-8-1 2 NC, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) aims to spoil the UFC debut of Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0, fighting out of Kokshetau, Kazakhstan)
- Da-un Jung (13-2, fighting out of Seoul, South Korea) seeks to stay undefeated in the UFC when he takes on veteran Sam Alvey (33-14, fighting out of Temecula, Calif.) at light heavyweight
- UFC newcomers Umar Nurmagomedov (12-0, fighting out of Chelyabinsk, Russia) and Sergey Morozov (16-3, fighting out of Aktobe, Kazakhstan) aim to put on a show-stealing performance
- Liana Jojua (8-3, fighting out of Tbilisi, Georgia) battles Invicta FC veteran Miranda Maverick (7-2, fighting out of Norfolk, Va.)
- Top bantamweight prospects battle in a 140-pound catchweight bout as Nathaniel Wood (17-4, fighting out of London, England) meets Casey Kenney (15-2-1, fighting out of Tucsan, Ariz.)
- In a lightweight bout, Joel Alvarez (17-2, fighting out of Asturias, Spain) looks to extend his win streak when he takes on Alexander Yakovlev (24-9-1, fighting out of Fairfield, N.J. by way of Saint Petersburg, Russia)