In the mid-afternoon of Saturday October 24th, all the eyes of the MMA world will once again be on fight island. Last month we watched as Israel Adesanya walked away from the island victorious and championship belt still in hand. Undefeated Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to do the same this Saturday. Will his mauling style of wrestling be enough to turn off the human highlight known as Justin Gaethje?

Whether you love Khabib’s style or hate it, “The Eagle” is an all time dominant force in the UFC. His elite level sambo wrestling just smothers anyone crazy enough to share a cage with him. But that’s exactly what Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje is. A crazed brawler with real deal skills to back it up. This fight is an ultimate example of an immovable object vs an unstoppable force. 

Anyone interested in putting their money where their gut tells them to should check out to get some dollars on the table. I’ll go over Saturday’s main card below and give my take on this weekend of action.

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs “The Hulk” Ion Cutelaba (15-5)

Light Heavyweight

Ion Cutelaba has been riding an up and down ride as of late posting a 3-3 record in his last six fights. The lowest stop on this ride might just be last February when he was knocked out in under a minute by Ankalaev himself. I see this one going close to the same way. I don’t think it will be as quick as the first bout. Magomed is one tough Russian machine who comes from the same part of Russia as Khabib. Magomed Ankalaev wins by First round TKO.

“Lucky” Lauren Murphy (13-4) vs Liliya Shakirova (8-1)

Women’s Flyweight

Lauren Murphy is coming off of her third straight win in the UFC. Liliya Shakirova is fighting in her UFC debut. What they have in common though is the fact that neither woman has been stopped in their pro careers. All the losses they’ve suffered have been by decision. These ladies are tough as nails as this could be a sleeper for fight of the night. Lauren Murphy has been through some wars in her career and at 37 how much is left in the tank? I’m going to go with Liliya Shakirova by split decision.

“Mamba” Jakob Malkoun (4-0) vs “Megatron” Phil Hawes (8-2)


I’ll make this one as quick as the fight will be. Phil Hawes wins by first round KO. This dude’s nickname isn’t “Megatron” for no reason.

“Drago” Alexander Volkov (31-8) vs “The Big Ticket” Walt Harris (13-8)


Time for the big boys to take the stage. Both men are entering the cage coming off a loss in their last fight. Volkov standing at 6’7 will try to use his range to keep his opponent at bay. Harris on the other hand isn’t known for having the best cardio and at 37 years old I don’t expect it to have gotten any better. I’ll take Alexander Volkov by third round TKO.

Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (21-5) vs Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (13-4)


This fight is another war in the making. Whittaker is a former middleweight champion coming off a great decision win over another top contender in Darren Till. Also known as “Bobby Knuckles”, Whittaker is a fan favorite and 10-1 in his last eleven fights. Cannonier is a monster at middleweight having fought at light heavyweight and heavyweight in the past. “The Killa Gorilla” is 3-0 at middleweight and looks scary good winning all three fights by TKO. However, Whittaker is going to be his toughest fight to date. A win here puts either fighter next in line for a shot at the champ. Give me Robert Whittaker by decision.

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov (28-0) vs Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (22-2)


It’s finally here. Khabib Nurmagomedov puts his belt and undefeated record on the line against Justin Gaethje. A classic grappler vs striker matchup at the highest level of the sport. Khabib loves to impose his wrestling and Gaethje loves to stand and bang. This is going to be an ultimate chess match of whose style prevails. Like Rocky going into Russia to fight Ivan Drago, Gaethje wants to bring that championship belt back home stateside. I hope Khabib’s focus is really on the task at hand and he isn’t looking ahead to a possible perfect retirement fight against the hall of famer Georges St. Pierre because Gaethje is going to bring everything he has to the octagon.

The question is can Gaethje get back up if Khabib gets him down. Khabib might be the best pound for pound wrestler the UFC has ever seen. That suffocating Russian sambo style of his is something nobody seems to have an answer for. Just when you think you stopped a takedown, BOOM! Khabib chains his shot into another takedown, then another, until he has you right where he wants you. My question is can Khabib take the punishment that comes with fighting a maniac like Justin Gaethje? Judges can basically go home when he steps in the ring. Only two of Gaethje’s fights have been left up to judges decision.

From what I saw at the weigh ins, Khabib’s weight cut might play a serious factor. He asked for the towel immediately so he could shed just the few ounces his shorts gave him. Then as he stepped off the scale and got dressed he took a knee to start rehydrating. In the upset of the year I’m picking Justin Gaethje to win by fifth round TKO.

Feel free to agree or disagree with my picks. It’s the fight game after all anything can happen with one punch. At least @ me on Twitter if you’d like to talk about it though. Too much violence in fighting for you? The rest of the Belly Up team has you covered.

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Randy Perry

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