One of the most talked-about cards of 2020 arrives on Saturday when Khabib Nurmagomedov will look to defend his UFC lightweight championship against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Read our prediction and bet with free bet bonus at William Hill CO/NJ/IL.
“The Eagle”has spent more than a year out of the Octagon and goes up against interim lightweight champion Gaethje in what is being viewed as the biggest threat to his unbeaten record to date.
Nurmagomedov boasts a daunting 28 professional wins since his debut in September 2008, the last 12 of which have come under the UFC banner. He enters UFC 254 as -335 moneyline favorite with Sugarhouse for New Jersey customers, while Gaethje (22-2) is the +270 underdog.
The fight sets itself up as a classic clash of styles, with Khabib portrayed as the superior ground combatant and Gaethje—who has won his last four fights via KO/TKO—bringing an edge in the strike department.
“The Highlight” recently told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto he was motivated to see how Nurmagomedov reacts to a barrage of punches the likes of which he hasn’t seen before. However, Khabib responded by suggesting his upbringing in Dagestan has prepared him for anything inside the cage:
Khabib v. Gaethje Prediction: Nurmagomedov via submission (+158)
Although the result is far from clear, it’s apparent this fight is unlikely to go the full five rounds considering Gaethje hasn’t heard a final bell in his last 11 fights (9-2), all of which have ended by either KO or TKO. The 31-year-old sealed his championship chance by beating Tony Ferguson to claim the interim title at UFC 249 in May, the best example yet that he’s ready for the opportunity.
Sugarhouse has priced Nurmagomedov at +240 to win by decision, while Gaethje could be worthy of a hopeful bet at +375 to finish his foe by KO or TKO.
Khabib is likely to come up against the heaviest hitter of his career to date, but a five-round affair runs in favor of his ability to outlast opponents and eventually enforce his will wrestling. Gaethje is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler but has come to prioritise his striking, and there are questions over whether he has the same stamina.
As a result, it seems most sensible to back Nurmagomedov at +158 to win via submission, as he did in his last two fights against Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, each notable strikers in their own regard.
New Jersey bettors can also bank on when Khabib will win the fight with bet365 NJ —he's listed at +700 to win in any individual round between the first and the fourth, while a fifth-round victory pays a more handsome price of +1000.
Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje Moneyline Odds
Khabib Nurmagomedov: -335
Justin Gaethje: +270
UFC 254 Info
Date: Saturday, October 24
Venue: Flash Forum, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Early Prelims: 10:15 a.m. ET (3:15 p.m. BST)
Prelims: 12 p.m. ET (5 p.m. BST)
Main Card: 2 p.m. ET (7 p.m. BST)