Great Britain

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje: How MMA stars compare ahead of epic UFC 254 fight

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV will go a staggering 29 fights unbeaten if he wins against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Saturday.

The epic showdown is the headline event on Fight Island with mammoth pay-per-view figures expected.

It comes just three months after Nurmagomedov's dad Abdulmanap died of Covid-19.

Gaethje earned his shot at Nurmagomedov after replacing the Russian in May to beat Tony Ferguson for the interim belt.

And here SunSport details how the champions compare heading into their undisputed title decider.

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV

The Russian has emerged as one of the fiercest champions in the UFC through his dominant grappling and devastating strength.

With 28 consecutive wins he has the longest winning streak in MMA actively, making two defences of the belt he won in 2018.

Nurmagomedov has proven almost unstoppable in wrestling exchanges but looks to finish fights with aggressive ground and pound or submissions.

His stand-up skills have also vastly improved under American Kickboxing Academy trainer Javier Mendez.

Nurmagomedov posses a quick jab and powerful right hand, which floored Conor McGregor in their fight.

The 31-year-old has known to slow down going into the championship rounds, but has only be taken to decision 10 times.

JUSTIN GAETHJE

Gaethje came into the UFC in 2017 after making a name for himself as an unbeaten champion elsewhere.

But his overzealous aggression led to defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.

He has since remained an exciting contender but vastly improved by taking his time and sticking to a game plan.

Despite a collegiate wrestling background, Gaethje chooses to stand and strike, possessing heavy hands and lethal kicks.

Amazingly, the 31-year-old has never attempted a takedown in the UFC and has an 80 per cent defence.

Gaethje has also proven to have a durable chin, despite the two KO defeats.

FIGHT BREAKDOWN

As against anyone in the lightweight division, Nurmagomedov enters the title fight as a favourite.

But Gaethje's stellar takedown defence makes for an interesting match-up which will likely be fought on the feet in stages.

If the American can stuff Khabib's takedowns or get back to his feet quickly, he has the advantage in striking.

But Nurmagomedov has taken heavy shots from McGregor and Poirier in the past before firing back or getting the action to the floor.

If Khabib is able to grind Gaethje down throughout the rounds, tiring him and causing his striking to become slower and less powerful, he could well finish the fight before the final bell.

But Gaethje's all-round game points to giving the Russian his hardest test to date.

Khabib set to fight Justin Gaethje this year at UFC 253 despite tragic death of his father as Dana White reveals plans

Football news:

Griezmann on Messi: I admire Leo, and he knows it. We have a great relationship
Rooney on the possibility of a move to Barca in the 2010/11 season: Thinking about it. Could fit in perfectly
Hooray, in England they will let the audience into the stands again! While up to 4 thousand and not everywhere, but the clubs are happy 😊
Solskjaer about the match with Istanbul: these are the Champions of Turkey, it will be difficult
Gasperini on the nomination for the best coach of the year award: If we beat Liverpool, maybe I'll get a few votes
Julian Nagelsmann: Leipzig want to give PSG that final feeling they are talking about
Tuchel Pro Champions League: Match with Leipzig - the final of our group