- Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his lightweight title on Oct. 24
- Will Justin Gaethje be the one to beat Khabib?
- How will the odds change as fight night approaches?
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje will fight on Oct. 24 after much speculation that the undefeated lightweight champion wouldn’t fight in 2020 following the death of his father.
Following Gaethje’s dominant win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, MMA fans were excited to see “The Highlight” get a title shot against Nurmagomedov. Not only is Gaethje prone to exciting fights, he could also be the champion’s toughest test to date.
The fight will take place at UFC 255 on Oct. 24 (location TBD. Sportsbooks have posted the opening odds, and they see Nurmagomedov as a sizeable favorite.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje Odds
Odds taken July 28.
Nurmagomedov has not fought since UFC 242 last September, when he submitted Dustin Poirier to defend his lightweight belt. He was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18 but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he could not leave Russia. The event ended up being canceled.
When the promotion returned at UFC 249, it was Ferguson taking on Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Gaethje won by fifth-round TKO.
This fight was expected to take place at UFC 253 in September, but Khabib’s father (and coach), Abdulmanap, passed away due to complications from the coronavirus, delaying the bout a month.
Gaethje’s Recent Performances
Justin Gaethje is on a roll.
The American is on a four-fight winning streak; before the win over Ferguson, he scored three straight first-round knockout wins over Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick. The only two losses of his career are to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez in back-to-back fights in Dec. 2017 and Apr. 2018. Since then he has been a completely different fighter. He is more technical and doesn’t waste all his energy in the first round.
Gaethje is also the former World Series of Fighting Champion, beating the likes of Nick Newell and Melvin Guillard among others.
How Will the Odds Change?
Right after Gaethje beat Ferguson by fifth-round TKO, the odds saw Nurmagomedov as a -285 favorite with the comeback on the interim champion at +245.
Now, after the fight was formalized, the odds have changed to see the undefeated Dagestani champion as just a -225 favorite with Gaethje a +190 underdog.
Gaethje has all the tools to be the one to defeat Nurmagomedov. He is an All-American collegiate wrestler and has legit one-punch knockout power. If he can stuff Nurmagomedov’s takedowns, it will be a good night for him. He can use his leg kicks and punches to hurt the champ and finish him by TKO. There is a clear path to victory for Gaethje, but the big question is whether he will be able to stuff the champ’s takedowns.
So far, no one in the UFC has been able to.
The odds opened at a fair price. But expect to see a lot of action on Gaethje over the next several weeks and months. Nurmagomedov will close as about a -185 favorite.