UFC 254 Odds: Khabib vs. Gaethje betting preview, predictions, analysis
Undefeated Russian superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov returns to the cage for the first time in over a year when he defends his UFC lightweight title against interim champion Justin Gaethje on Saturday night and BetRivers.com has the latest UFC 254 odds, lines, and props.
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UFC 254 Khabib vs. Gaethje takes place on UFC Fight Island, the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, October 24. The early prelims begin at 10:30 a.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass, followed by the prelim card beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 ad ESPN+. The UFC 254 Khabib vs. Gaethje main card begins at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+
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BetRivers.com Weekend UFC 254 Odds Specials:
- Any main card fight ends within 60 seconds (+300)
- Over 1.5 main card fights to end in Round 1 (-130)
- Tai Tuivasa & Alex Oliveira to win (+260)
- Magomed Ankalev, Lauren Murphy & Alex Volkov all win (+195)
- Robert Whittaker to win by KO/TKO/DQ (+300)
- Justin Gaethje to win inside the distance (+350)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov to win in first three rounds (+130)
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UFC 254 Odds: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
For nearly two years, UFC fans had been waiting for Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0, -335) to meet Tony Ferguson inside The Octagon to determine who the best lightweight fighter on the planet is. But several injury cancelations derailed those plans, and then Justin Gaethje (22-2, +260 ML) starched Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249, battering him for five rounds to capture the interim title and earn a chance to face the undefeated Dagestani champ.
And as fun as a matchup between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson would have been, Gaethje makes it even more entertaining.
But really, that’s all for naught, because aside from Jon Jones, arguably the greatest MMA talent of all time, Nurmagomedov is the most dominant fighter on the planet, holding the longest current undefeated streak in the entire sport.
Gaethje is really good. He has an elite chin, exceptionally heavy hands, is ruthlessly aggressive, and has a flair for the dramatic. He is ultra-durable, experienced, and is more likely to exceed expectations than fail to meet them.
And yet none of that is enough to crack Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov possesses offensive grappling that cannot be rivaled — or defended — by anyone within 25 pounds of him. Nurmagomedov holds the UFC record for most takedowns in a single fight and has been credited with losing just one single round out of the 36 rounds he’s logged during his 13-fight UFC career.
It is important to note that Nurmagomedov had a brutal weight cut this week, and look exhausted at the Thursday night weigh-ins, just barely making it under the limit. Pushing your body to its limit is dangerous when you have to do it again 48 hours later. It doesn’t just impact one’s gas tank. It impact their entire body and mental strength.
If I was giving Gaethje only 10% of a chance to defeat Nurmagomedov earlier in the week, I’m willing to bump that up to a 20% chance.
Gaethje is the superior striker, but because he tends to move in straight lines, instead of maintaining distance, the likelihood he walks into several Nurmagomedov takedowns is incredibly high. Yes, Gaethje was an All-American wrestler in college at Northern Colorado. But Nurmagomedov is a two-time World Combat Sambo champion, two-time No-Gi World champion, and a one-time European Pankration champion. Nurmagomedov employs trips, tosses, sweeps, and reversals as much as he does double-leg takedowns. His mobility in guard passes and the top position is world-class, and he posses the strength, power and gas tank to dominate his opponent on the ground and in the clinch for 25 minutes.
I am leaving room open for the possibility that this fight ends early, but I’m not putting a ton of stock in it. Nurmagomedov has fought inside The Octagon 12 times, and only once has he finished a fight in the first round. Nurmagomedov wants to break his opponent’s will with elite wrestling, suffocating grappling, and heavy hands from the top position. Add in the fact that Gaethje can take an obscene amount of damage and this fight has all the makings of a multi-round battle.
Sure, three of Gaethje’s previous four fights have ended inside the first round, but those three opponents — Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick — are 1) strikers who want to bang early and stay on their feet, and 2) not in the same stratosphere as Nurmagomedov.
When Gaethje has faced the highest level of competition — Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and Eddie Alvarez — the fights have lasted much longer, with a mixed bag of results.
I expect this fight to go at least three rounds, with Khabib picking up a late submission win. A decision win for Nurmagomedov is also a very realistic possibility, and while I’ve just spent several hundred words explaining why I’m riding with the champ, I do think that there is the possibility that Gaethje pulls off the upset. I’m just not investing in that outcome.
The public seems to be on my side, with 94% of the total fight handle backing Nurmagomedov. BetRivers.com has already taken over a dozen bets of $1000 or more backing Nurmagomedov to win, including a $19000 wager on Nurmagomedov -320 ML that has a potential payout of $24,890.
- Khabib vs. Gaethje to go the distance: Yes (+150), No (-200)
- Khabib win by finish: Yes (-106), No (-130)
- Gaethje to win by finish: Yes (+350), No (-590)
- Khabib to win by decision: Yes (+210), No (-305)
- Gaethje to win by decision: Yes (+800), No (-3335)
- Khabib Winning Method: Submission (+200), Decision (+210), KO/TKO/DQ (+400)
- Gaethje Winning Method: TKO/KO/DQ (+375), Decisions (+800), Submission (+2500)
Keep yourself updated with the latest UFC odds.
UFC 254 ODDS: Jared Cannonier vs. Robert Whittaker
Expect a lot of violence in this one. A lot.
Jared Cannonier (13-4, -118 ML) is surging toward top middleweight contender status, thanks to three consecutive TKO victories, including the likes of MMA legend Anderson Silva. Robert Whittaker (21-5, -106 ML) is a former middleweight champion who lives by the mantra of “kill or be killed.” Whittaker isn’t going to avoid taking damage, but Cannonier possesses punching power that Whittaker has not faced that often.
Cannonier and Whittaker are going to meet in the center of The Octagon and trade leather until one man drops. Determining who is going to fall and when is the tricky part. I think Whittaker is one of the most durable fighters in the UFC, but I believe Cannonier possesses the best fight-winning skill: knockout power. But that might mean Cannonier has to put Whittaker away early. The longer the fight goes, the more it benefits Whittaker, who is averaging 18.4 minutes of fight time over his last five fights.
The play here is to cover as much ground as possible. Over 2.5 rounds (-115) is a good place to start, as is Cannonier to finish in the first round (+350), Whittaker to win via decision (+210) and Whittaker-Cannonier will go the distance (+120).
UFC 254 Odds: Main Card (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0, -335) vs. Justin Gaethje (22-2, +260)
- Jared Cannonier (13-4, -118) vs. Robert Whittaker (21-5, -106)
- Alexander Volkov (31-8, -175) vs. Walt Harris (13-8, +135)
- Phil Haws (8-2, -278) vs. Jacob Malkoun (4-0, +215)
- Lauren Murphy (13-4, -275) vs. Lillya Shakirova (8-1, +200)
- Mogomed Ankalaev (13-1, -295) vs. Ion Cutelaba (15-5, +225)
UFC 254 Odds: Prelims (12 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)
- Stefan Struve (29-12, -125) vs. Tail Tuivasa (9-3, +100)
- Alex Oliveira (22-8-1, -139) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0, +115)
- Da Un Jung (13-2, -360) vs. Sam Alvey (33-14, +275)
UFC 253 Odds: Early Prelims (10:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN+)
- Casey Kenney (15-2-1, -190) vs. Nathaniel Wood (17-4, +150)
- Miranda Maverick (7-2, -345) vs. Liana Jojua (8-3, +260)
- Joel Alvarez (17-2, -182) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (25-10-1, +145)
(All odds as of Tuesday, October 20 at 1 p.m. ET)