Khabib is overcome with emotion after his win
Khabib is overcome with emotion after his win Image Credit: Twitter

UFC 254: Khabib v Gaethje - Get the GOAT

Khabib won in the second round
Khabib won in the second round Image Credit: Twitter

It was a blink-and-you-miss-it affair in the headliner as Khabib Nurmagomedov forced a submission from Justin Gaethje in the second round. It was an emotional win for Khabib, who lost his father and coach earlier this year. And now he has a real claim to be the GOAT in UFC.

Christmas comes early for Whittaker

Plenty of drama ahead of Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi
Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier traded epic blows in Abu Dhabi

Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier served up the perfect aperitif to the main event at UFC 254 with an incredibly tactical fight which the Aussie trumped by sticking to his gameplan.

Cannonier (13-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) was hoping to keep his winning streak going and cementing a possible title shot but Whittaker (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC) had other plans. With both fighters preferring to keep it at a boxing-meets-kick-boxing fight, it was former champion Whittaker who out-boxed his rival and to win by unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28.

There was a moment in the final round when Whittaker lands another of his piston-like jabs and followed it up with a head kick that stunned Cannonier who retreated to the safety of the cage. Whittaker was all over him and looked for the finish but Cannonier got back to his feet only to hear the final bell.

That fight was so special and Whittaker, 29, but very much a veteran said: “It feels good. I’m very happy its all over … the work is done. Me and my team diligently worked plans for this fight and I followed it out to a tee. I’m going straight home and putting up the Christmas tree for my kids.”

And now, it’s time, for the hotly anticipated lightweight contest between unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the challengerJustin Gaethje.

Lights out for Harris

Alexander Volkov takes down Walt Harris
Alexander Volkov takes down Walt Harris Image Credit: Supplied

Ouch! Birthday Boy Alexander Volkov gets the win with a leg kick to Walt Harris’ breadbasket that would have made Cristiano Ronaldo proud.

Harris grimaces and holds his stomach as he collapses against the cage. Volkov comes after him but referee Lukaasz Bosacki comes to the rescue and stops the fight. Volkov’s power is undeniable as six rivals in the UFC have found out before Harris.

And as if to show that he is ready for another workout the big Russian walked across the cage and invites former heavyweight champion and UFC expert commentator Daniel Cormier to join him for a jog! Only Jared Cannonier v Robert Whittaker stands between us and the Main Event — Khabib vs Gaethje.

Don’t switch the lights out, not just yet.

Dazzling debut

Phil Hawes demolished Jacob Malkoun on his UFC debut
Phil Hawes demolished Jacob Malkoun on his UFC debut Image Credit: Supplied

Despite the delays... There was absolutely no stopping the fireworks at Fight Island with Phil Hawes making a sensational UFC debut with an 18-second (18 SECONDS!!!!) KO over Jacob Malkoun in a middleweight bout. Soon after touching gloves, Hawes stalked a retreating Malkoun around the Octagon before landing a huge right hand behind his left ear. Malkoum was hurt big and dropped to the canvas as Hawes began to unload with both hands that flattened his rival.

Referee Jason Herzon rushed in to stop Malkoum for further punishment. That was some debut and the world will remember the name Phil Hawes.

Ladies first

Lauren Murphy destroyed Liliya Shakirova
Lauren Murphy destroyed Liliya Shakirova Image Credit: Supplied

Never underestimate the power of a woman, especial if she is an MMA fighter of the calibr of veteran flyweight contender Lauren Murphy, who wasted no time to make jaws drop on her first main-card appearance with a crazy submission win over newcomer Liliya Shakirova in the second round.

Uzbekistan’s Shakirova was very much in the fight mixing it up against Murphy, who looked the more patient of the two before taking her rival’s back at 3:31 of the second to sink in the rear naked choke and get the tap out. That was some fight and this is getting to be one helluva night in Abu Dhabi.

Hold up

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje with Dana White at the weigh-in on Yas Island
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje with Dana White at the weigh-in on Yas Island Image Credit: Supplied

There have been some delays, meaning the card has been shunted back a wee bit... We are looking at KvJ at around midnight UAE time now...


Joel Alvarez rocked the Octagon in Abu Dhabi
Joel Alvarez rocked the Octagon in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

UFC 254 got off to an explosive start at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening with both the early preliminary fights ending in first-round finishes.

Spain’s Joel Alvarez defeated Alexander Yakovlev via an armbar submission at 3 minutes of round one after the Russian attempted a takedown that went horribly wrong.

Alvarez secured a choke from a strong position ooff his back and although Yakovlev survived, he found himself in a nasty armbar as the Spanish fighter squeezed the life out of his arm forcing the tap. It was another impressive first-round submission for Alvarez.

Division: Lightweight
Joel Alvarez (18-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) def. Alexander Yakovlev (25-11-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC)..

Miranda Maverick
Miranda Maverick Image Credit: Supplied

This paved the way for a women’s flyweight bout between UFC debutant Miranda Maverick and Liana Jojua. which did not last long either.

With Maverick forcing the pace Jojua relied on counter-strikes for most of the round but could not inflict too much damage. Maverick was pickng out her opponent with side kicks and combinations and during the final exchanges of the round she caught Jojua with a cracking elbow that opened up her nose.

Doctors rushed in to assess the condition of Jojua and after taking a good look at the cut on her nose waived off the fight even as she pleaded to continue

Maverick was winning on her promotional debut.

Division: Women’s flyweight
Miranda Maverick (8-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) def Liana Jojua (8-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC),


A very good evening to you all!. Thanks for joining us to follow the action on an epic evening at Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island for UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Geathhe, the year’s most anticipated fight which takes centre stage. Tonight’s schedule of fights is one of the finest on the 2020 UFC calendar in terms of great match-up and is definitely one of the best that Abu Dhabi has hosted in two seasons of Fight Island.

The excitement is steadily building up, with the first port of call being the two early preliminary fight. Lightweight Joel Alvarez (1702 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs Alexander Yakovley (2501 MMA, 3-5 UFC) will kick off the action and they will followed by a women’s bout featuring Liana Jojua (8-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC), and Miranda Maverick (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC).