|UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje|
The poster for UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje.
|Promotion||Ultimate Fighting Championship|
|Date||October 24, 2020|
|City||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|Attendance||None (behind closed doors)|
UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje is an upcoming mixed martial arts event produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship that will take place on October 24, 2020 at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The plan is to proceed with local timing for prime time hours. The main card is scheduled to begin at 10:00 pm (October 24) local time in Abu Dhabi, with a full preliminary card beginning at approximately 6:15 pm Gulf Standard Time.
A UFC Lightweight Championship unification bout between current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje (also former WSOF Lightweight Champion) has been tabbed to serve as the event headliner. The bout was briefly linked to UFC 253, but the date did not materialize and will instead take place five weeks later. On September 17, the UFC announced the signing of former three-time Bellator Lightweight World Champion Michael Chandler, who is expected to serve as backup and potential replacement for this fight.
A middleweight bout between former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier was initially scheduled to take place in March at UFC 248, but Whittaker pulled out due to personal reasons. The pairing has now been rescheduled for this event.
Despite never being officially announced, a featherweight bout between The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America featherweight winner Yair Rodríguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov was expected to take place at this event. The pairing has been scheduled on two previous occasions, first at UFC 228 in September 2018 and then at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić in August of this year. However, Rodríguez pulled out of both events with injury.
Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cuțelaba first met in a light heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo, where Ankalaev won via controversial knockout. Due to the controversy of the stoppage, the UFC booked the rematch for UFC 249, on its original April 18 date. However, Ankalaev was forced to pull out of the event due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were later rebooked for UFC 252, but Cuțelaba then pulled out after testing positive for COVID-19 and the bout was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakić. Cuțelaba tested positive yet again on the day of the event, resulting in another cancellation of this fight. In turn, they were rescheduled for a third time and will meet at this event.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos was expected to face Shavkat Rakhmonov in a welterweight bout at the event. However, Zaleski pulled out in late September due to a knee injury that will require surgery. He was replaced by Alex Oliveira.
A lightweight bout between former champion Rafael dos Anjos and Islam Makhachev was expected to take place at the event. However on October 8, it was announced that dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from the bout. A replacement could not be found and Makhachev was also removed from the event. The pairing was left intact and rescheduled for November 14 at UFC Fight Night 183.
Cynthia Calvillo and former Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion Lauren Murphy were scheduled to meet in a women's flyweight bout at the event. However on October 15, Calvillo was forced to withdraw from the bout after testing positive for COVID-19 and she was replaced by promotional newcomer Liliya Shakirova.
A bantamweight bout between Umar Nurmagomedov and Sergey Morozov was expected to take place at the event. However on October 18, it was announced that Nurmagomedov had been hospitalized due to an illness and was pulled from the bout. The promotion is seeking a replacement for Morozov.
|Lightweight||Khabib Nurmagomedov (c)||vs.||Justin Gaethje (ic)||[a]|
|Middleweight||Robert Whittaker||vs.||Jared Cannonier|
|Heavyweight||Alexander Volkov||vs.||Walt Harris|
|Middleweight||Jacob Malkoun||vs.||Phil Hawes|
|Women’s Flyweight||Lauren Murphy||vs.||Liliya Shakirova|
|Light Heavyweight||Magomed Ankalaev||vs.||Ion Cuțelaba|
|Preliminary card (ESPN / ESPN+)|
|Heavyweight||Stefan Struve||vs.||Tai Tuivasa|
|Catchweight (140 lb)||Nathaniel Wood||vs.||Casey Kenney|
|Catchweight (173 lb)||Alex Oliveira||vs.||Shavkat Rakhmonov|
|Light Heavyweight||Da Un Jung||vs.||Sam Alvey|
|Early preliminary card (ESPN / ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)|
|Women's Flyweight||Liana Jojua||vs.||Miranda Maverick|
|Catchweight (158 lb)||Joel Álvarez||vs.||Alexander Yakovlev|
- For the UFC Lightweight Championship.
- Bantamweight bout: Sergey Morozov vs. TBA
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