— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2020
UFC 254 is just a matter of weeks away, and a mouth-watering Lightweight unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim belt holder Justin Gaethje is headlining the Abu Dhabi-based event, which is all taking place on October 24th. Due to his extreme power, The Highlight is highly considered as the Russian’s most dangerous opponent to date. However, according to the odds on Khabib vs Gaethje, the bookmakers are heavily backing the Russian to continue his lengthy winning streak.
With the event just around the corner, it’s worth taking a look back at Gaethje’s UFC career to date. Read on to find out more!
After defending his World Series of Fighting Lightweight Championship belt, for the fifth time, against Luis Palomino, at the end of 2016, Gaethje vacated the title, which he had held since 2014, in favour of the UFC.
In July 2017, The Highlight made his UFC debut, headlining The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale with a bout against Michael Johnson. It was a winning start for Gaethje, as he TKO’d The Menace late into the second round. Gaethje was awarded the ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus, and the bout was given the ‘Fight of the Night’ award.
The Highlight returned to the Octagon for UFC 218 in December 2017. His bout against Eddie Alvarez featured on the Main Card of the Max Holloway vs José Aldo headlined event, but it didn’t go to plan for Gaethje, as Alvarez knocked him out with a brutal knee in the third round. The bout was awarded the ‘Fight of the Night’, but the defeat brought an end to Gaethje’s 18-fight winning streak.
In April 2018, it was back-to-back defeats for Gaethje, as he faced Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fox. The bout headlined the event, and the pair traded blow-for-blow throughout the rounds, before Poirier won via TKO, 33 second into the fourth round. For the third time in-a-row, a Gaethje bout was awarded the ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.
Just three month later, The Highlight was back in the Octagon, and, more importantly, back into his winning ways. Gaethje went toe-to-toe with James Vick in the headline event of UFC Fight Night and knocked out his opponent just one minute and 27 seconds into the first round. Gaethje was then given his second ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.
For the second time in a row, The Highlight was victorious with a first-round knockout. This time, at UFC on ESPN. Gaethje headlined the event with a bout against Edson Barboza, and he KO’d his opponent after just two minutes and 20 seconds with a brutal right hook. It was another ‘Fight of the Night’ performance from Gaethje.
Against Donald Cerrone, at UFC Fight Night, Gaethje made it three-successive first round victories. The Highlight beat The Cowboy via TKO (punches), four minutes and 18 seconds into the opening round, and was awarded his ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus for the dominant display.
Earlier this year, in his most recent fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, Gaethje defied the odds, and ended ‘El Cucuy’s’ run of 12-successive victories. The Highlight won via TKO (punches) late in the final round and was awarded with the interim UFC Lightweight Championship belt, as well as the Performance and Fight of the Night bonuses.
With Gaethje winning nine of his 12 UFC bouts via a stoppage, it’s clear to see why The Highlight is considered Khabib’s most dangerous opponent to date. However, if Gaethje wants to end the The Eagle’s 28-successive winning streak, then he will need to defy the odds once again.