UFC 254 is poised to deliver one of the most exciting fights of 2020, with two current lightweight champions — Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje — facing off at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This highly anticipated championship bout is shaping up to be the fight of the year, and as a pay-per-view event, you’ll need to sign up for ESPN+ to watch it live this Saturday. If you want to learn more about the defending champion before UFC 254, then read on to see everything you need to know about Nurmagomedov.
With a record of 28 wins and zero losses — the longest unbroken win streak of any fighter in the UFC — Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is the most dominant champion in the world of MMA right now. The 32-year-old Nurmagomedov is a Dagestani Muslim (the first Muslim to hold a title in the UFC) who was born in the Soviet Union and now fights out of Russia.
Nurmagomedov is regarded as one of the best (if not the best) grapplers and wrestlers in the UFC. He began wrestling at an early age, a common tradition in Dagestan where the sport is hugely popular, and trained under his late father. As he grew up, Khabib expanded his training to include judo and sambo before making his professional MMA debut in 2008. His aggressive fighting style consists of placing lots of pressure on his opponents in order to push them to the edge of the cage, where he employs judo and sambo takedowns to finish his foes with “ground-and-pound” tactics.
Since his debut, The Eagle has established himself as one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts history with dominant victories over other top combatants including Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Al Iaquinta (whom Khabib defeated to claim the vacant lightweight title at UFC 223 in 2018). Nurmagomedov has successfully defended his championship belt twice so far, but his upcoming bout with interim champ Justin Gaethje — another highly accomplished grappler — might prove to be Khabib’s most challenging fight yet.
As interesting as the circumstances are surrounding the UFC 254 main event, this isn’t the first time two champions have faced off — and it’s not even the first time Nurmagomedov has had to defend his belt against another titleholder. “The Eagle” did so in his last fight at UFC 242 last September, where he defended and unified the UFC Lightweight Championship against then-interim champ Poirier. Whether he’ll manage to once again unify the lightweight title or suffer his first defeat at UFC 254 is yet to be seen, but if you want to watch it live, then now’s the time to sign up for ESPN+ so you can stream it online this Saturday.
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