How UFC 254 is shaping up to be biggest card of the year: Lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov looking to realise late father’s dream, Tony Ferguson on the comeback trail while Robert Whittaker takes on the man no-one wants to face at middleweight
We’re over one month away from the biggest lightweight title fight in UFC history, with Khabib Nurmagomedov defending his 155 lbs championship for a third time when he faces Justin Gaethje on October 24.
Robert Whittaker, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Rafael dos Anjos will feature at the unconfirmed location, while White revealed that Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje are likely to be the co-main event.
Khabib tweeted on Wednesday that he is headlining ‘the best card of the year’, so Sportsmail runs through the stacked card and why UFC 254 may well be the best fight card of the year.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje
There has been no stopping Khabib Nurmagomedov since his arrival in the UFC eight years ago, with the Eagle steamrolling every challenger thrown in his direction.
The 31-year-old is 28 fights undefeated and is targeting a win over Gaethje before a showdown with UFC legend Georges St Pierre, to round off a remarkable mixed martial arts career.
But a win over the Highlight is far from a formality, with the American viewed as the opponent that will pose the most challenging questions to the undefeated Dagestani.
Tony Ferguson vs Dustin Poirier (not yet confirmed)
This one is yet to be made official, although UFC chief White has revealed that Tony Ferguson will ‘probably’ co-headline UFC 254 with a bout against former title challenger Dustin Poirier.
The pair have both been crowned interim lightweight champion, but neither have been able to take that next step in becoming undisputed king of the 155 pounders.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Yair Rodriguez
Next up is a man who will be feeling as though his shot at the featherweight title is due any minute now. Zabit Magomedsharipov has patiently waited on the sidelines while Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway have twice fought for the 145 lbs belt.
Talk of a third bout between the champion and Holloway has angered the Russian, who has dazzled fans with jaw-dropping striking while also being able to dominate on the ground.
Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier
Another man on the road to redemption is Robert Whittaker. The former middleweight king is looking to ascend to the summit of the 185 pounders after being knocked off his perch by Israel Adesanya last year.
The Australian was impressive last time out against Darren Till at Fight Island, securing a huge win over the popular Liverpudlian in a strong message to the rest of the division that he won’t be going away quietly.
Islam Makhachev vs Rafael dos Anjos
Throughout his eight-fight UFC career, Islam Makhachev has quietly played the understudy to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev is a loyal ‘brother’ of Nurmagomedov, and is regularly seen training with the lightweight champion as part of his team at AKA in San Jose.
Makhachev has been labelled a future UFC lightweight champion, and with Khabib reportedly eyeing up two more fights, the time is now for the Dagestani to put himself in a position to capture the belt