Khabib v Gaethje Preview: Ladbrokes Still Back Khabib Despite Weight Cut Struggle

Leigh Copson /

Bookmaker Ladbrokes is sticking with Khabib Nurmagomedov for Saturday night’s UFC lightweight title fight in Abu Dhabi, despite the unbeaten champion looking in rough shape at the pre-fight weigh-in.

READ MORE: Get our free Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje betting tips for UFC 254.

As soon as the lightweight title fight with Justin Gaethje was announced the bookmakers wasted little time in making Khabib the odds-on favourite, and that was not a major shock considering the champion’s flawless MMA record that includes stoppage wins over Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier over the past couple of years.

However, to many Gaethje represents Khabib’s toughest challenger yet and you will know from our Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje betting tips & predictions that we fancy the challenger to shock the world and shake up the lightweight division on Saturday night. That belief has only been strengthened by what we saw from the pre-fight weigh-in for the UFC 254 main event.

Khabib struggling to make weight is nothing new, but he looked drawn out, weak and tired as it was confirmed that he had made 155lbs for the meeting with Gaethje, and if he is not 100% on Saturday night he could be in serious trouble. His bread and butter is his wrestling – he has manhandled and mauled opponent after opponent during his rise to the very top of the lightweight division and that is exactly what he plans on doing to Gaethje. However, the challenger is a talented wrestler himself and if he gets taken down he will not be taken down easily, so will Khabib have the gas tank to relentlessly attack for takedowns if he is weakened by a rough weight cut?

And if he cannot get the fight to the mat and keep it there, can Khabib match Gaethje in the stand-up? Many will point to the fact that he knocked down a striking great in Conor McGregor when they met, but he never really had the Irishman in trouble and for many ‘The Notorious’ was fighting scared of the take down and that was why Khabib was able to land that strike. It is safe to say that Gaethje will not be fearing takedowns here and he has the striking speed, skill and power to punish the champion – want evidence, check out the Tony Ferguson fight!

Backing Khabib to lose is a dangerous proposition, but at some point that ‘0’ in the loss column has to go and after what we saw at the weigh-in, it could be Saturday night. The bookies are still backing the champion – and who can blame them given his record – but suddenly the odds on Gaethje to win are more appealing than they have ever been since this fight as announced!