Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:49 AM

UFC 254 Khabib vs Gaethje Betting Odds

  • October 21, 2020
  • By Adam Lykkesteen

UFC 254 Odds & Analysis

The Ultimate Fighting Championship heads back to UFC Fight Island on the 24th of October for UFC 254 headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje squaring off for the UFC Lightweight Championship.

We’re going to take a closer look at the opening betting odds and line movements for the main event.

UFC 253 Recap

UFC 253: Underdogs 5-6 (Return +157)


UFC 253 marked the return of the underdogs, as the four prior events had seen favorites up +1815. Blinding betting $100 on all underdogs of UFC 253 would’ve given you a $157 profit.


  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020
  • TV-Time: ESPN/ESPN+, ESPN PPV 10:00 a.m. ET
  • Venue: Flash Forum
  • Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


The undisputed lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, puts his undefeated record on the line when he faces interim champion Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254. Gaethje is fresh off the biggest win of his career over Tony Ferguson, rounding out a clinical performance with a 5th round TKO win over ‘El Cucuy’ at UFC 249.

The last time we saw Nurmagomedov compete was when he beat top contender Dustin Poirier via 2nd round submission a year ago at UFC 242, in Abu Dhabi.

This fight is Nurmagomedov’s to lose, as he puts everything on the line to try and beat the next hungry challenger. Will Gaethje be the one to take the champion’s 0?


UFC 254 Betting Odds

This line initially opened back in July, it was with the champion as a -250 favorite (Bet $100 to win $40) and Gaethje as a +200 underdog.

Since then, the line movement listed below has reflected a dispute over where the value is.

As of Wednesday Oct. 21, Nurmagomedov has spiked up to a minus-350 favorite over Gaethje as bettors have shown more of a lean to the undefeated champion.

Along with backing Khabib to win the fight, the early Over-Under money is expecting the fight to finish in less than 22 and a half minutes. Total bettors have been staring at a number of 4.5 rounds with the money shaded to the Under (-175) versus the Over (+155).

I would expect more money to come in on the Under by Saturday knowing Khabib has finished his last two opponents inside distance and Gaethje has only heard the judges scorecards twice in his 24-fight career.

Fighter Opening Odds (7/29) 7/31 8/2 8/9 9/6 9/6 10/21
Nurmagomedov -227 -278 -250 -278 -286 -298 -350
Gaethje +200 +187 +225 +200 +225 +239 +290


I can’t argue with the betting line for this fight. Nurmagomedov is the undefeated champion who has crushed every single opponent in his tracks. On the other hand, Gaethje does pose an interesting challenge for the Russian. With his background in wrestling, he will rely on his takedown defense to hold up against Nurmagomedov’s relentless attempts of getting this fight to the mat.

Now with that being said, I reckon Gaethje’s wrestling credentials have been oversold just a bit as of late. Sure, people want to see Khabib struggle, but in comparison, to the champion’s extensive wrestling foundation I see no one in the lightweight division coming close, apart from newly signed olympic wrestler Mark O. Madsen.

Gaethje has stopped 7 out of 9 takedowns attempted against him in his UFC career, and has an 80% takedown defense to boast about. Here’s my issue: Justin hasn’t faced a chain wrestler like Khabib in the UFC before. Someone who does not stop until he has you pinned on the ground. Justin’s cardio will be severely tested in this fight, and I don’t see it holding up for 5 rounds on the backfoot against the champion.


In 2020, champions have bested the challenger in every single title fight (excluding fights for a vacant belt). This gives us statistical significance on the champion, and while laying -286 chalk on the champion might not seem that appealing, I think the betting line will start to favor Gaethje a bit more in the not too distant future.

He had that main event spot against Tony Ferguson. It was during the COVID-19 lockdown where casual bettors from all sports were flocking to the UFC events since they were the only thing that was on.

Now, the casual bettors are all over Gaethje, and even though his performance against Ferguson was impressive, we have to remember that styles make fights, and a fight against a pure striker hardly prepares you for a pure grappler.

Averaging 5+ takedowns per fight and absorbing just over one strike per minute, I like the champion in this spot. He has very effective head movement, and rarely gets hit. I don’t see how Gaethje has a better chance than someone like McGregor, who has the most dynamic and fluid striking in the division if you ask me.


UFC 242: Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier
Khabib Nurmagomedov -455 vs. Dustin Poirier +350

UFC 229: Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor
Khabib Nurmagomedov -189 vs. Conor McGregor +162

UFC 223: Nurmagomedov vs. Iaquinta
Khabib Nurmagomedov -615 vs. Al Iaquinta +495

UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm
Khabib Nurmagomedov -398 vs. Edson Barboza +342

UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor
Khabib Nurmagomedov -336 vs. Michael Johnson +294


UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje
Justin Gaethje +200 vs. Tony Ferguson -250

UFC on ESPN+ 16: Cowboy vs. Gaethje
Justin Gaethje -175 vs. Donald Cerrone +150

UFC on ESPN+ 2: Barboza vs. Gaethje
Justin Gaethje +100 vs. Edson Barboza -125

UFC Fight Night 135: Gaethje vs. Vick
Justin Gaethje +123 vs. James Vick -137

UFC on FOX 29: Poirier vs. Gaethje
Justin Gaethje +108 vs. Derek Brunson -122

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