UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Jung
Saturday, October 17 – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
It has been more than a year since we last saw Khabib Nurmagomedov inside the octagon and he will return on Saturday night to take on the “Human Highlight” Justin Gaethje out on Fight Island. This is a unification bout that puts Nurmagomedov – the lightweight titleholder – against Caethje who won the interim title when he dominated Tony Ferguson in a stunning upset back in May.
Nurmagomedov (28-0) is arguably the biggest draw in the company right no having come to the attention of the world when he beat Conor McGregor back at UFC 229. The Russian has a self-professed goal of reaching a record of 30-0 – with no announced plans after hitting that mark – so this could be his penultimate fight if things go according to his own plan.
This will be anything but an easy ride, however, with the hard striking Gaethje having won 96% of his 22 victories by either KO or TKO. After losing his second and third fights as a pro – and doing some soul searching to recover – the 31year-old Gaethje looks to be in the right type of form to really push the two-time Russian Combat Sambo champion to his limits here.
It is the way that the American fights with such violence and chaos that has made him a tough out. When you add in the work he has done with legendary coach Trevor Wittman to hone his craft = there are elements of technical knowhow to his striking now that didn’t exist when he first turned pro – and you have a fighter that really could challenge Nurmagomedov if the Russian doesn’t approach this with the right level of focus.
Even with all that said – and even with the heavy underdog pricing of a striker who could end this in one blow – it is hard to look past the champ here. He is an utterly dominant fighter – one of the best there has ever been – and Khabib should move his record to 29-0 on Saturday. If you do want to back the outsider, then the 2.33 you will get with BetXChange represents good value in a one on one competition.
The other bouts on the card are also ones that should be entertaining. These include a middleweight clash between two fighters that are very evenly matched in the co-main, with Robert Whittaker facing off against Jared Cannonier. The winner of this one is likely to be on the shortlist of contenders for Israel Adesanya’s title at the weight. Whittiker will be as technically sound as ever, but he will struggle against the sheer physicality and force of Cannonier. Take the favorite at 0.78 with BetXChange as the former heavyweight has a significant power advantage behind his fearsome punch.
Fans of big strikes should also pay attention to the matchup between Alexander Volkov and Walt Harris. Volkov is in need of a win here after losing to Curtis Blaydes via decision back in June and he will look to land heavy blows on Harris to get the job done.