UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov 'ready for war' against Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi

Lightweight unification bout in Yas Island on October 24

Khabib Nurmagomedov says he’s “ready for war” as he continues preparations for his lightweight unification bout against Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi later this month.

The undefeated champion, whose record stands at 28-0, takes on the interim title-holder in the headline clash at UFC 254 in Yas Island on October 24. The event brings to a close a second Fight Island series in the capital.

Nurmagomedov, 32, has not fought in 13 months, when he defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 – that encounter was also staged in Abu Dhabi – and has been training in Dubai since last month.

On Tuesday, the Dagestan native posted on his social media accounts a video of his camp, with the caption “Ready for war”.

For many, Gaethje represents Nurmagomedov’s sternest challenge to date, after the powerful American set up the unification fight by dominating Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in May.

Nurmagomedov had originally been slated to face his long-time foe, but had to withdraw amid travel restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gaethje, 31, earned a TKO in the fifth round in Jacksonville, Florida, taking his mixed martial arts record to 22-2 and inflicting Ferguson’s first defeat in eight years – a period spanning 13 fights.

Nurmagomedov-Gaethje tops the bill at UFC 254, the fifth and final event on “Return to Fight Island”. The main card features six bouts, including the match-up between lead middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier, for the first time since UFC 190 in August 2015.