UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje odds, predictions: MMA insider reveals surprising fight card picksKyle Marley has hit 22 of the last 28 UFC main events and just locked in his UFC 254 predictions.When he won an interim UFC title in May, Justin Gaethje said the unified belt is the only piece of hardware he’s interested in taking home.
The fearless slugger gets that chance on Saturday when he faces sitting champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 254. The lightweight unification fight tops the docket from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, with the main UFC 254 fight card scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. Gaethje earned his shot with a fifth-round stoppage of Tony Ferguson, whose scheduled bout against Nurmagomedov was canceled because of coronavirus-related travel bans. The Russian champion will be fighting for the first time in 2020 atop the UFC 254 card.Nurmagomedov is a -330 favorite (risk $330 to win $100), while Gaethje is a +270 underdog (risk $100 to win $270) in the latest UFC 254 odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, Jared Cannonier (-120) faces Robert Whittaker (+100) in a battle of ranked middleweight contenders. Before making any UFC 254 picks, make sure you see what SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has to say, considering the epic run he’s on.
Over the past 20 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley’s picks are up more than $20,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has been on a rock-solid run in 2020 as he has connected on 22 of his last 28 main-event selections, a stretch that included a streak of five straight underdogs.
At UFC Fight Night last week, Marley correctly called a dominant performance for Jessica Andrade (-145) over Katlyn Chookagian (+125) in the women’s flyweight co-main event. He told SportsLine members that the skill gap between the fighters was much wider than the price suggested, and was proven correct when a late first-round flurry resulted in a stoppage win for Andrade. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.Now, with UFC 254 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available here.
Khabib vs. Gaethje preview
The MMA analyst knows the main event represents a major turning point in the careers of both fighters. Nurmagomedov (28-0) has made no secret of his desire to retire as an undefeated champion. He also plans on doing so fairly soon and has spoken of taking perhaps one more fight after Saturday’s Khabib vs. Gaethje main event, with the goal of walking away from MMA a perfect 30-0.
In order to do so, he must first get past a rugged opponent in Gaethje (22-2), who has ascended from a fan-favorite novelty to one of the most skilled fighters in the promotion.
Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to fight longtime rival Ferguson in April, a bout that has now been scheduled and canceled five times for an assortment of reasons. This time, the coronavirus pandemic restricted travel and the champion was unable to leave Russia in order to make the fight.
The UFC eventually booked Ferguson and Gaethje for an interim belt, with the winner getting the first shot at Nurmagomedov. The power-punching Gaethje dominated from the outset and eventually stopped the resilient Ferguson, who saw a 12-fight win streak come to an end.
Gaethje’s power and relentless style had MMA fans anticipating his move to the UFC from the World Series of Fighting, where he was a champion. But he started off 1-2 in the promotion and it appeared his lack of diverse skills would be an issue against top-tier competition.