Khabib Nurmagomedov will be looking for takedowns leading to a finish and Justin Gaethje will be looking for a knockout when they meet for Nurmagomedov's lightweight championship in the matinee main event of UFC 254 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The "Fight Island" event begins at an unusual time during the day. The main card starts at 2 p.m. ET on pay-per-view, which fans can purchase here. Early prelims are on ESPN+ starting at 11 a.m., followed by more prelims at noon on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
Nurmagomedov (28-0, 12-0 in the UFC) has defended his 155-pound belt twice before, most recently in a third-round submission of Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019 at the same locale. That was the last time a UFC pay-per-view began during daytime.
Gaethje (22-2, 5-2 UFC) has won four fights in a row, a run capped by a fifth-round TKO of then-No. 1 contender Tony Ferguson in May. That earned Gaethje an interim lightweight title.
The co-main event pits former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker against contender Jared Cannonier, whom champion Israel Adesanya has already said he wants to face if Cannonier can win this bout. Whittaker dropped his belt to Adesanya a year ago, and he bounced back with a win over Darren Till in July. Cannonier has not fought since September 2019, when he knocked out Jack Hermansson for his third straight early TKO.
How to watch the fights
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Saturday's fight card
PPV (via ESPN+), 2 p.m. ET
Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) vs. Justin Gaethje (ic) | Lightweight
Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier | Middleweight
Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris | Heavyweight
Jacob Malkoun vs. Phil Hawes | Middleweight
Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova | Women's flyweight
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cuțelaba | Light heavyweight
ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN+, 12 p.m. ET
Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa | Heavyweight
Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney | 140-pound catchweight
Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov | Welterweight
Da Un Jung vs. Sam Alvey | Light heavyweight
ESPN+, 11 a.m. ET
Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick | Women's flyweight
Joel Álvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev | Lightweight