It’s time for our UFC 254 live coverage.
We’ll be back right in time for the main card, which is an early start for this show.
If you want all the scuttlebutt on the card, check out Ryan Frederick’s Guide To UFC 254.
You can also listen to our UFC 254 preview podcast with AEW champion, Jon Moxley.
Ion Cutelaba Vs Magomed Ankalaev
The first round didn’t have as many fireworks early on as it was way more measured. Cutelaba was moving forward, trying to get on the inside. But he was wide open for eating Ankalaev’s left hand. He snuck in some good right hands of his own. But then Ankalaev just took him apart.
He threw a right hand just to set up the left hand and knocked Cutelaba out. Cutelaba went to the ground and because of how the last fight ended, he probably took one or two extra punches to make sure that it was stopped correctly. Brutal beating on the ground.
Winner: Magomed Ankalaev by 1st round knockout
Liliya Shakirova Vs Lauren Murphy
From an athleticism standpoint, Shakirova is better, but Murphy’s strength is a bit too much. Shakirova moved well and showed flashes with kicks and nearly missed a spinning back fist, but Murphy owned the cage and when Shakirova did go for a takedown, Murphy strong-womaned her. Murphy wins mostly for dominating the pace and cutting off the cage.
Murphy’s too good for Shakirova. There was a clear level of expertise difference with Murphy. Shakirova was tiring having to fight moving backward. Murphy never took a risk and just waited for Shakirova to play into what she wanted. She got the clinch, took her down, got her back and choked her out. Great win for Murphy.
Winner: Lauren Murphy by way of 2nd round submission
Phil Hawes Vs Jacob Malkoun
Hawes came out like a bolt of lightning. He closed Malkoun quickly, landed a punch right on the left ear and Malkoun went down. He finished him with punches and it only took 18 seconds.
Winner: Phil Hawes by 1st round knockout
Walt Harris Vs Alexander Volkov
Harris looks strong in there. Everything he throws is hard and powerful. Volkov’s length is giving him trouble. He threw a straight jab that Harris didn’t react well to. Harris is trying to get inside, but he has to eat punches coming in to do so. When Harris does get inside, he’s landing hard shots. Volkov landed a heavy leg kick. Harris buckled from a nasty left hand and Volkov loaded up, but Harris was able fight off the cage and not get stopped. Big round for Volkov.
Volkov landed a kick right to the gut and Harris ate it and fell back to the cage and Volkov stopped him. Great fight for Volkov.
Winner: Alexander Volkov by way of 2nd round TKO
Jared Cannonier Vs Robert Whittaker
Both guys look really good in the first round and seem to be matched up very well. Cannonier landed some low kicks and Whittaker just took them. But when Cannonier came inside, Whittaker made him pay with shots. Really close round.
Whittaker’s boxing is too strong for Cannonier. He’s in and out popping his jab and his right hand. Cannonier’s right eye is swollen. Whittker is also showing great footwork. Cannonier is still chopping at the legs. But Whittaker’s boxing is impressive here. He clearly won round two. Whittaker shot in for a takedown and got him down near the fence, but Cannonier was up quickly.
Whittaker caught Cannonier with a nasty combination that ended with a head-kick. Cannonier was knocked off-balanced and was having trouble staying on his feet. Whittaker followed him to the ground and stayed patient. Cannonier’s eye was busted open. Cannonier amazingly got back up. Cannonier landed a right hand that slightly buckled Whittaker. Whittaker knew the time left on the clock and went for a takedown to not give Cannonier the space to go for the knockout. Really good end to the fight.
Winner: Robert Whittaker by unanimous decision
The scores were 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28.
Justin Gaethje Vs Khabib Nurmagomedov
First round is solid, but Gaethje is having trouble with the pressure. Gaethje is on his horse. These guys look to be in great shape. Khabib is doing better on the feet. Gaethje has to not only watch out for the takedowns, but also the heavy punches. Gaethje landed a nice shot that somewhat stalled Khabib. He also landed a left hand that staggered him. Khabib got a takedown with about 40 seconds left. Khabib won the first round.
Gaethje is attacking the legs, but it opened up the opportunity for Khabib to get a takedown. Then he immediately went for an arm bar/triangle combination and Gaethje tapped out before he was about to fall asleep. That was as impressive of a performance as you’ll ever see.
Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov by way of 2nd round submission
Khabib announced his retirement and said he needs to be the pound-for-pound fighter in the rankings.