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Legacies are defined by such moments.
Nurmagomedov will put his perfect 28-0 record on the line when
he meets Justin
Gaethje to unify the
Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown in the
UFC 254 main event on Saturday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates. The result of their long-awaited encounter
figures to have lasting ramifications in one of the UFC’s glamour
Nurmagomedov has not fought since he submitted Dustin
Poirier with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC
242 headliner more than a year ago. The
American Kickboxing Academy representative has since waded
through a fight cancellation—he was scheduled to face Tony
Ferguson in April—and suffered through the death of his father
due to COVID-19 complications. Gaethje, meanwhile, has rattled off
four consecutive victories since suffering back-to-back defeats to
Poirier and Eddie
Alvarez. He laid claim to the interim lightweight title at UFC
249, where he cut through the aforementioned Ferguson with
fifth-round punches on May 9.
As Nurmagomedov and Gaethje approach their hotly anticipated
battle, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to
32: Years of age for Nurmagomedov, who was born on
Sept. 20, 1988 in Sildi, Russia—a small village of less than 300
people in the Republic of Dagestan.
10: Submission wins for Nurmagomedov, accounting
for 36% of his professional total (28). His methods of choice: four
triangle chokes, two kimuras, two rear-naked chokes, one armbar and
one neck crank.
57: Takedowns landed by Nurmagomedov as a UFC
lightweight, putting him second on the promotion’s all-time list at
155 pounds. Only Gleison
Tibau (84) has executed more.
930: Days spent by Nurmagomedov as UFC lightweight
champion. It ranks as the longest reign in the history of the
155-pound weight class, ahead of B.J. Penn (812),
Edgar (687), Anthony
Pettis (560) and Benson
407: Significant strikes by which Nurmagomedov has
outlanded his 12 opponents in the UFC, an average of roughly 34 per
31: Years of age for Gaethje, who was born on Nov.
14, 1988 in Safford, Arizona.
19: Gaethje victories by knockout or technical
knockout, accounting for 86% of his career total (22). “The
Highlight” also has one submission win to his credit, as he tapped
Young with a second-round rear-naked choke under the Rage in
the Cage banner in September 2012.
12: Seconds needed for Gaethje to punch out
Fickett at Rage in the Cage 163 on Oct. 20, 2012. Having
occurred in his sixth professional appearance, it remains his
fastest finish to date.
0: Takedowns attempted against Gaethje during his
current four-fight winning streak. All told, opponents are a
miserable 2-for-20 on takedowns against him inside the Octagon.
Only Alvarez and Michael
Johnson have managed to get the longtime Trevor Wittman
disciple to the ground.
9: Post-fight bonus checks cashed by Gaethje in
his seven UFC appearances. The former
World Series of Fighting champion has been awarded “Fight of
the Night” five times and “Performance of the Night” four times,
resulting in $450,000 of additional income.