UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje – Tips & Preview

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje, Lightweight, Main Event
Khabib by Points/Submission

Khabib enters this one as the $1.28 favourite, with Gaethje out at $3.55.

Undefeated for his career, Khabib enters this bout with a phenomenal 28-0 record.

He has been in a fine run of form, with his last 5 wins coming against Johnson, Barboza, Iaquinta, McGregor, and Poirier.

His methods of victory have been very versatile, managing 8 knockouts, 10 submissions, and 10 decisions so far.

Gaethje has also had a stellar career to date, entering this bout with a 22-2 career record.

He has rebounded nicely from losses to Poirier and Alvarez, managing a trio of recent wins over Barboza, Cerrone, and Ferguson.

A striker first and foremost, 19 of his wins have come by way of knockout.

I can’t see anything but a Khabib victory here, with my official play being Khabib by submission/points.

There looks to be a real mismatch on the ground here, one which I’d expect Khabib to capitalize on early and often.

This should allow him to tire out Gaethje, grabbing points in the early rounds and securing a potential finish late on.

Rob Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier, Middleweight, Co-Main
Whittaker to Win

Jared Cannonier opens as the narrowest of $1.87 favourites here, with Aussie Rob Whittaker out at $1.92.

Cannonier is 13-4 for his career, having gone 6-4 since joining the UFC in 2015.

He has been in a good run of form, winning his last 3 fights against Branch, Silva, and Hermansson.

Known as somewhat of a knockout specialist, 9 of his wins have come via KO.

Aussie Rob Whittaker has also had a storied career, entering this bout with a 21-5 career record.

He won 9 straight fights from 2014 to 2019, before losing his Middleweight belt to Israel Adesanya.

He managed a well-earned decision win over Darren Till last time out, suggesting things are back on track.

Known for his excellent finishing ability, he has 9 knockouts and 5 submissions in his career so far.

Given Whittaker’s track record and his strong performance against Till, I’m inclined to take him straight up here as the underdog.

I think he probably has the slight edge on Cannonier in nearly all facets here and he should definitely be able to out-strike him.

I’m expecting him to come out fast here and get the early lead, using his strong defense to hold on in the end.

Alex Volkov vs Walt Harris, Heavyweight
Volkov to Win

Alex Volkov opens as the $1.65 favourite here, with Walt Harris the slight underdog at $2.20.

Volkov enters this bout with a 31-8 career record, having gone 4-2 since joining the UFC in 2016.

He has had a mixed bag over his last few fights, winning against Werdum and Hardy, but coming up short against Lewis and Blaydes.

As you’d expect for a Heavyweight, he excels at the art of the knockout, having already managed 20 so far.

His opponent, Walt Harris, enters this bout with a 13-8-1 career record, going 6-5-1 since joining the UFC.

He had been in very strong recent form before losing to Alistair Overeem in a main event last time out.

Another knockout specialist, every single one of his wins have been by KO.

This is a matchup where I think Volkov is clearly the better fighter and will take him to win straight up at $1.65.

He’s probably got a slight edge in a striking battle between these two, but he also dominates Harris in every other category.

His ability on the ground is impressive for a big man and if he gets Harris down, it could be over early.

With all 3 win methods in play, I’ll just stick to the straight-up win market here.