Justin Gaethje takes on Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 on Saturday in a mouth-watering clash as he fights for his opponent’s lightweight championship.

Ahead of the fight, we take a look back at Gaethje’s career to date.

Justin Gaethje profile

Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje has made a real name for himself by utilising his strengths in the UFC. With 19 wins by knockout and three first-round finishes, Gaethje is a dangerous competitor in the octagon. An accomplished wrestler, Gaethje was an NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler, where he honed his UFC abilities.

Although being lethal while wrestling, Gaethje rarely utilises this style, typically opting for striking instead, with his favourite striking technique being the uppercut. ‘The Highlight’ appears to improve every time he steps inside the octagon and should never be taken lightly.

Biggest fights

Justin Gaethje v Tony Ferguson – UFC 249

Possibly Gaethje’s biggest fight and victory to date came in his bout with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 earlier this year, where he was extremely impressive as he landed consistent shots on his opponent. The bout went on for four-and-a-half rounds with ‘The Highlight’ putting on a technical striking clinic. Ferguson was battered and bruised throughout the bout, sustaining arguably more damage than any of Gaethje’s former opponents put together.

Ferguson was unable to land anything meaningful on Gaethje, with ‘The Highlight’ putting on a dominant display. Gaethje brought an end to Ferguson’s eight-year, 12-fight unbeaten streak and in doing so became the interim Lightweight champion. When interviewed by Dana White afterwards, Gaethje refused to hold the belt, claiming that he was “waiting for the real one.”

Justin Gaethje v Edson Barboza – UFC on ESPN

Gaethje and Edson Barboza are two of the most experienced lightweights in the game. Before his fight with Gaethje in 2019, Barboza had previously lost to the likes of Ferguson, Khabib and Kevin Lee – he was in danger of holding ‘gatekeeper’ status. It was the perfect fight for Gaethje to take as a win would put him well into the frame.

The fight exploded into life in round one with both men hurling kicks at each other. It was ‘The Highlight’ who managed to assert himself first, getting Barboza against the cage wall. Barboza shook this off but Gaethje dropped him with a spectacular right hand towards the end of the first round to claim the victory.

Justin Gaethje v James Vick – UFC Fight Night

Gaethje and James Vick had a tense build-up to their fight in 2018, which left Gaethje promising that his opponent would pay for all the trash talk. ‘The Highlight’ was coming into the bout after two brutal losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. Despite not getting the win in either of these contests, Gaethje earned praise from the wider UFC community and the fighters themselves.

This fight didn’t last long. Gaethje backed Vick into a corner and delivered a left hook before coming over with a looping right hand. Vick was out cold after the right hand connected and the fight was ended to mark a spectacular return to form for ‘The Highlight’.

Gaethje’s next fight

Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje – UFC 254

The next person in line to take on Khabib is ‘The Highlight’. Gaethje is coming into the bout following his incredible performance against Ferguson at UFC 249 and the pair will face off at UFC 254 on Saturday at Fight Island, Abu Dhabi.

Khabib has proven to be a lethal force in the MMA world and is most known for his emphatic victory over Conor McGregor after a heated rivalry. Gaethje will feel confident that he’s capable of preventing Khabib from getting him on his back, thanks to his impressive wrestling background, but this is his toughest task to date. He comes into the bout as the underdog, currently priced at 13/5 in the UFC betting to become the lightweight champion.

Khabib will enter the bout as heavy favourite at 2/7, and will look to dominate

from the get-go. He will likely want to test Gaethje’s takedown defence but could also try and prove that he can match his opponent in the stand-up. Khabib is 15/8 with the betting market to win this bout in the same style he beat McGregor, by submission.

Professional career record and stats

Professional record: 22-2-0

Height: 5’ 11”

Weight: 155lbs

Reach: 70”

Stance: Orthodox

D.O.B: 14/11/88

Check out all the latest UFC betting odds at William Hill