Khabib Nurmagomedov will be fighting for the first time in over a year when he takes on Justin Gaethje at Fight Island in the main event of UFC 254. It's hard to debate that it's the biggest title fight of the year - especially considering that it's a unification bout and it also features one of the UFC's two biggest stars in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's fights have eventually become spectacles, purely because of how dominant he has been inside the Octagon. In his third official UFC Lightweight title defense, the Russian will look to make quick work of Justin Gaethje.
Speaking to UFC Arabia (H/T MMA Fighting), Khabib Nurmagomedov was asked about his thoughts on fighting behind closed doors in an empty arena. He reflected on his incredible win last year at UFC 242 against Dustin Poirier and stated that it's different and that he doesn't like the energy, but ultimately, there's no choice:
“When I fight here at 242, one year ago, it was crazy crowd, crazy fans around the world come here, a lot of people from my family, like my father was with me,” Nurmagomedov said. “It was great time last time in Abu Dhabi when I fight and right now it’s different without fans. Honestly, this energy I don’t like. I really want to fight when the fans come back, but what can we do?”
He explained how the energy levels make them different fights altogether:
“When fans are there, this is like different level energy,” Nurmagomedov added. “With the fans and without fans is completely two different fights. Some fighters, when they don’t have fans, they fight good. When they have fans they fight little bit bad because they’re nervous. If you talk about myself, I love fans. When fans are there, they give me good energy. Even if they support me or not, I have very good energy when fans are there."
Khabib Nurmagomedov's big fight behind closed doors
Dana White stated that UFC 254 is trending higher than UFC 229 - the biggest fight in MMA history between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. While we doubt that it will reach the same pay-per-view figures, it wouldn't be surprising to see it exceed 1 million pay-per-view buys.
UFC 251 did a staggering 1.3 million pay-per-view buys with three title fights, but none of the fighters on the card held the same star power that Khabib Nurmagomedov does. It will be interesting to see how the pay-per-view does.Published 24 Oct 2020, 03:26 IST