The UFC hasn’t slowed down much during the coronavirus pandemic and that trend will continue in October.
In one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the year, undefeated Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his throne against current interim title holder Justin Gaethje.
In an interview on CNN, UFC President Dana White announced that Khabib-Gaethje was set for October 24 with the event and location to be announced at a later date.
Khabib (28-0) has been one of the most unbeatable looking fighters in the history of the sport and will be looking to make his third defense of the Lightweight Championship. Khabib last fought in September defeating Dustin Poirier in September by 3rd round submission via rear-naked choke.
Before that, Khabib defeated bitter rival Conor McGregor in October of 2018 with a 4th round submission. While rumors continue about a potential future rematch between Khabib and McGregor, the fight with Gaethje is the right fight to make.
Gaethje (22-2) entered the UFC on an 17-fight winning streak before going 1-2 in his first three fights with the promotion, but won Fight of the Night in all three match-ups.
Since his last loss to Poirier in April of 2018, “The Highlight” has been producing highlights with four straight (T)KO finishes over James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and most recently, Tony Ferguson in an interim title fight at UFC 249 in May.
Khabib and Ferguson has been the most cursed fight in MMA history with five bookings and no fight. When it fell through once again in May, Gaethje jumped at the opportunity and took advantage. Gaethje beat Ferguson in a one-sided affair that ended with a 5th round stoppage and would derail the potential of another booking of Khabib-Ferguson.
With that said, this match-up is one of the most fun across all divisions in the UFC. Gaethje has excellent take down defense and uses his wrestling base to stay on his feet and work in the clinch. Justin, at times, has the reputation of being a “wild” striker, but his accuracy and strikes-per-minute rate is some of the best in lightweight history.
While Khabib may be at a disadvantage on his feet, his wrestling is the great equalizer. Nurmagomedov averages over five completed take downs per fight and holds the record in the lightweight division with total take downs and take downs in a single fight with 21 in a dominate win back in 2013.
The Champion and interim Champion will unify the Lightweight titles on October 24 from likely either Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi depending on how the pandemic is continuing come the fall.