Welcome to F4WOnline.com's live coverage of UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje, emanating from the Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
The UFC wraps up five straight weeks on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi with arguably the biggest fight of the year as one of the biggest stars in the sport fights for the first time in over a year.
UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will square off with Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje in a title unification bout in the main event. Nurmagomedov will step foot into the Octagon for the first time since a September 2019 win over Dustin Poirier. Gaethje looks to become the undisputed champion after defeating Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in May.
In the co-main event, a potential title shot in the middleweight division is up for grabs as former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker takes on Jared Cannonier. Also on the main card is a heavyweight bout between Alexander Volkov and Walt Harris, and a light heavyweight fight with lots of bad blood as Magomed Ankalaev finally squares off with Ion Cutelaba in a rematch of their first fight, which ended in controversial fashion.
Follow along with our live coverage of the event beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time with preliminary action all the way through the main card.
We are looking for your thoughts on tonight's event, so send a thumbs up, a thumbs down or a thumbs in the middle along with a best fight and a worst fight to Dave at email@example.com.
ESPN+ PRELIMS | 11 AM ET/8 AM PT
> Joel Alvarez (17-2, 2-1 UFC) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (24-9-1, 3-5 UFC)
Lightweights* (Alvarez missed weight by 3.5 pounds)
Alvarez missed weight for the fight. They are trading kicks to start the fight. Yakovlev got a takedown and Alvarez grabbed the neck and was working for a guillotine. Yakovlev is able to escape and is landing body punches from the top as Alvarez is looking for elbows from the bottom. Alvarez now looks for an armbar. He has it locked in and Yakovlev taps. Nasty armbar from the guard by Alvarez to kick things off.
Official Result- Joel Alvarez def. Alexander Yakovlev by submission (armbar) at 3:00 of Round 1
> Liana Jojua (8-3, 1-1 UFC) vs. Miranda Maverick (7-2, 0-0 UFC)
Maverick is making her UFC debut. They were trading early as Jojua was landing the right hand as Maverick was landing leg kicks. Maverick lands a combo ending with a leg kick. Jojua is bleeding from the mouth. Maverick with an inside leg kick. Maverick still landing combos. Maverick with a body kick. Maverick mixing up her strikes well. Maverick lands a standing lead elbow and then follows with a head kick. Maverick with a back elbow that busts Jojua's nose open. Jojua still throwing but Maverick landing more as the round ends. 10-9 Maverick.
They stopped the fight in between rounds as Jojua's nose was bleeding badly and they couldn't stop it from bleeding, so the doctors called it off. Impressive debut win by Maverick.
Official Result- Miranda Maverick def. Liana Jojua by TKO (doctor stoppage- cut) at 5:00 of Round 1
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> Da Un Jung (13-2, 2-0 UFC) vs. Sam Alvey (33-14 1 NC, 10-9 UFC)
Not much happening early as Jung is stalking Alvey around the Octagon. Jung with a body kick. Alvey lands some leg kicks and a left hand. They both start throwing punches and Alvey stuns Jung with a counter left hand. They clinch and both battling for position. Jung pokes Alvey in the eye but the referee missed it and Jung lands some follow-up punches. Alvey landing more as the round goes on. Alvey lands a right hand. Alvey with a late combo than lands a lot. 10-9 Alvey.
Alvey starts with a nice combo and now Jung lands a combo. Alvey keeps fighting with his back near the fence. Alvey with a leg kick. Jung still coming forward and Alvey is landing the counter punches. Jung with a body kick. Alvey with a nice combo. Alvey with more outside leg kicks. Jung lands a right hand, then a left hook and follows with a right hand. Alvey lands a nice uppercut. Alvey with a late combo. 10-9 Alvey, 20-18 Alvey.
Alvey starts the third with an outside leg kick. Alvey landing a leg kick and following with a combo. Jung drops Alvey with a right hand and they go to the mat but Alvey is able to scramble up. Jung has the back against the fence. It was an elbow that dropped Alvey. They break the tie-up. Alvey lands a short left hand. Alvey lands an uppercut. They trade punches. Alvey with another uppercut. Alvey with another one. Jung with another elbow that stuns Alvey. They clinch against the fence. They break and Jung lands another big elbow. Close fight. 10-9 Jung, 29-28 Alvey.
Official Result- Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey ends in a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)
> Alex Oliveira (22-7-1 2 NC, 11-6 1 NC UFC) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0, 0-0 UFC)
Welterweights* (Oliveira missed weight by 2 pounds)
Rakhmonov is making his UFC debut while Oliveira missed weight for the fight. Oliveira lands a right hand. Rakhmonov with a leg kick. They were trading and Rakhmonov lands a big knee to the body. Rakhmonov with some flurries against the fence before they clinch up. Rakhmonov with a knee to the body as they battle for position against the fence. They remain clinched as Oliveira is looking for the takedown. Rakhmonov has the neck and drops down and has a guillotine choke locked in and Oliveira taps! Big win in his debut for Rakhmonov.
Official Result- Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Alex Oliveira by submission (guillotine choke) at 4:40 of Round 1
> Nathaniel Wood (17-4, 4-1 UFC) vs. Casey Kenney (15-2-1, 4-1 UFC)
Wood lands a left hand as they come out with a quick pace. Wood landing some leg kicks early. Wood landing kicks as both are throwing punches. Kenney lands a big right hand. They are trading kicks. Wood with some inside leg kicks. Kenney with a nice left hand. Wood with a leg kick and follows with a combo. Kenney with a left hand. Wood with some leg kicks and Kenney lands a left hand. Kenney with another hard left hand. Wood with a leg kick and Kenney counters with a left hand. Kenney with a spin kick to the body. Kenney with a leg kick and then another spin kick to the body. Great round. 10-9 Kenney.
They both come out throwing and Kenney with another spin kick. They are both throwing and Kenney with an elbow. They trade leg kicks. Kenney with a body kick. Wood with a combo. Wood with a leg kick and Kenney counters with a combo. They trade kicks. They trade punches. Kenney with a combo. They trade and Kenney throwing more. Kenney lands a hard left hand and follows it with some more punches and a leg kick. They both land in close range with Wood landing a little better. Kenney loading up on his punches but he still lands a couple of left hands. Kenney with an inside kick. Fun second round. 10-9 Wood, 19-19.
Wood with some inside leg kicks to start the third. Wood landing more at the start of the third. Kenney throwing some punches and lands a left hand to the body. Wood with a leg kick and Kenney lands a left hand. Kenney goes for a takedown and takes the back of Wood against the fence as he looks to complete it. Kenney still working hard for the takedown as they scramble. They break and Kenney lands a combo. Wood goes for a takedown but Kenney defends and Wood lands as they break. They both land in close range. Kenney shoots for a takedown but Wood stuffs it. Kenney with a hard left hand. They trade punches. They clinch and trade late. Outstanding fight. 10-9 Kenney, 29-28 Kenney.
Official Result- Casey Kenney def. Nathaniel Wood by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
> Stefan Struve (29-12, 13-10 UFC) vs. Tai Tuivasa (9-3, 3-3 UFC)
Tuivasa with a leg kick. Tuivasa comes in and they clinch and Tuivasa with some body punches. Tuivasa controlling against the fence and lands a couple more body punches and they break. Tuivasa with a right hand. Struve with a leg kick. Struve lands a head kick and Tuivasa eats it. They clinch and Tuivasa with a knee and then lands a left hand as they break. Tuivasa with a leg kick. Tuivasa with another leg kick. Struve with some front body kicks. Tuivasa with another leg kick. Tuivasa with some punches. He throws Struve to the ground and starts landing punches. Struve gets up and Tuivasa drops him with an uppercut and finishes it off. Big win for Tuivasa.
Official Result- Tai Tuivasa def. Stefan Struve by knockout (punches) at 4:59 of Round 1
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> Magomed Ankalaev (#11, 14-1, 4-1 UFC) vs. Ion Cutelaba (15-5 1 NC, 4-4 UFC)
Cutelaba with a front body kick and Ankalaev with a leg kick. Ankalaev with a body kick and follows it with a right hook. Ankalaev with an inside leg kick and Cutelaba counters with a right hand. Cutelaba with another right hand. Ankalaev with a body kick. They trade punches. They are both landing short punches. Ankalaev drops Cutelaba with a straight left hand but Cutelaba gets right up. Ankalaev lands a left hand that drops Cutelaba again as Cutelaba rushes in and Ankalaev gets on top and was landing punches and then knocked Cutelaba out cold on the mat. What a knockout by Ankalaev.
Official Result- Magomed Ankalaev def. Ion Cutelaba by knockout (punches) at 4:19 of Round 1
> Lauren Murphy (#5, 13-4, 5-4 UFC) vs. Liliya Shakirova (8-1, 0-0 UFC)
Shakirova is making her UFC debut on short notice. Shakirova with an inside leg kick. Shakirova with a right hand. Murphy comes forward and lands a body kick. Shakirova with a leg kick as Murphy lands a right hand. Shakirova with a spinning back fist. Shakirova tires for a takedown but Murphy slips away and they break. Shakirova with some body punches and lands a right hand. Shakirova with a spin kick. They trade kicks. Shakirova tries a single-leg takedown but Murphy defends and lands some elbows against the fence. They break and Shakirova with a teet kick to the body. 10-9 Murphy.
Murphy lands a kick. Murphy coming forward but not landing. Murphy coming forward with punches and Shakirova circles away. They trade in close range and Murphy lands a couple of knees. They trade again in close range and Murphy with a knee in the clinch. Murphy gets a takedown and is in the guard of Shakirova. Murphy lands a couple of punches from the top. Murphy gets the back of Shakirova and locks in a rear-naked choke. Shakirova taps! Big submission win for Murphy.
Official Result- Lauren Murphy def. Liliya Shakirova by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:31 of Round 2
> Jacob Malkoun (4-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Phillip Hawes (8-2, 0-0 UFC)
Both men are making their UFC debuts. This didn't last long as Hawes rocked Malkoun with a right hand and then unloaded a flurry of punches against the fence that sent Malkoun down and out cold. What a finish by Hawes.
Official Result- Phil Hawes def. Jacob Malkoun by knockout (punches) at :18 of Round 1
> Alexander Volkov (#7, 31-8, 5-2 UFC) vs. Walt Harris (#10, 13-8 1 NC, 6-7 1 NC UFC)
They were trading early and traded kicks. Harris with a leg kick. Volkov lands a right hand. Harris with an inside leg kick. Volkov with a body kick. Volkov with a jab and follows it with a combo. Harris with a right hand. Volkov lands a combo as Harris rushes in. Harris with a right hand off a kick from Volkov. Volkov lands some right hands. Volkov with a leg kick. Harris with an inside leg kick. Volkov with a combo. Volkov rocks Harris with a left hand and Harris is covering up as Volkov rushes in with a flurry. Harris lands a left hand and Volkov backs off and they reset. Volkov with a knee. 10-9 Volkov.
Harris lands a left hand. Harris shoots for a takedown but Volkov easily defends. Volkov with a combo. Volkov lands a big front kick to the body that hurts Harris and then lands a flurry and the fight is stopped. Excellent finish by Volkov.
Official Result- Alexander Volkov def. Walt Harris by TKO (strikes) at 1:15 of Round 2
> Robert Whittaker (#1, 21-5, 12-3 UFC) vs. Jared Cannonier (#2, 13-4, 6-4 UFC)
Cannonier with a hard leg kick right away. Whittaker with a leg kick. They trade leg kicks and both men slipped. Whittaker with a body kick. Whittaker with the jab. They trade leg kicks. Cannonier lands a couple more. Whittaker lands a counter right hand. Whittaker with a head kick but Cannonier checks it. Whittaker with the jab and Cannonier lands a leg kick. Whittaker landing more as the round goes on. Whittaker with a high kick that partially landed. Cannonier did some damage to the lead leg in the first. 10-9 Whittaker.
Whittaker lands a jab as Cannonier lands a leg kick. Cannonier with a body kick. Cannonier with a leg kick and then another. They trade and Cannonier lands a good counter right hand. Cannonier lands a hard right hand and Whittaker lands a counter left. Whittaker with the jab. They trade and Cannonier with a leg kick. Whittaker gets a brief takedown but they get up and break. Whittaker with a jab as Cannonier lands leg kicks. Whittaker with a right hand. Whittaker with another right hand. 10-9 Whittaker, 20-18 Whittaker.
Whittaker with the jab. Whittaker with another jab. Whittaker with a head kick and Cannonier is in trouble. Cannonier falls to the mat and Whittaker gets on top and is landing but stops the flurry and gets into the half-guard. Whittaker gets the back of Cannonier, who is busted up and bleeding. Whittaker looking for a choke but they scramble to their feet. They're clinched and Cannonier with some knees. They break. Whittaker with the jab. Whittaker lands another left hand. Cannonier with a body kick. Whittaker with the jab. Cannonier hurts Whittaker with a right hand. Cannonier trying to land a big shot but Whittaker ducks under. They are clinched and Cannonier just misses a big knee as the fight ends. Great showing by Whittaker, good fight overall. 10-9 Whittaker, 30-27 Whittaker.
Official Result- Robert Whittaker def. Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
> Khabib Nurmagomedov (C, 28-0, 12-0 UFC) vs. Justin Gaethje (IC, 22-2, 5-2 UFC)
UFC Lightweight Championship
Gaethje first to land with an inside leg kick. Gaethje with another inside leg kick. They trade right hands. Nurmagomedov lands a jab and Gaethje with a leg kick. They are both scrambling around. Nurmagomedov tries a takedown but Gaethje defends. Gaethje lands a right hand and then a leg kick. Nurmagomedov with a body kick followed by a jab. Nurmagomedov with a running knee. Nurmagomedov keeps coming forward and lands a combo. Nurmagomedov with another jab. They trade leg kicks. Gaethje lands a left hook and lands another leg kick. Gaethje with a right hand. Nurmagomedov with a front kick and Gaethje lands a counter left hand. Nurmagomedov gets a takedown. Nurmagomedov gets the mount. He looks for the arm but time runs out on the round. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov with a right hand. Gaethje with a left hook. Nurmagomedov with a leg kick and then follows with a combo. Gaethje lands a left hand. Gaethje with a leg kick. Gaethje with another leg kick. Nurmagomedov gets a takedown and has the back and then transitions to the full mount. Nurmagomedov looking for a triangle choke and has it locked in and Gaethje taps! Gaethje was tapping several times before it was stopped and he looked out after it was released. Unbelievable performance by Nurmagomedov as he moves to 29-0 and retains the title.
Official Result- Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Justin Gaethje by submission (triangle choke) at 1:34 of Round 2 to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship