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What happened at UFC 254?

To kick off the main card we had a highly anticipated rematch at light-heavyweight. Ankalaev faced Cutelaba for the 2nd time after a very controversial first-round stoppage in their first fight which involved Cutelaba "acting hurt" which made the referee assume he was "out on his feet". From the start, Ankalaev looked like he was in control. He ended up landing a big left hand which dropped Cutelaba and then finishing him off with follow up strikes with 41 seconds left in the first round. However, the referee could also be criticized once again as the stoppage this time looked slightly late.

Ankalaev finishing Cutelaba by KO at UFC 254.

Ankalaev finishing Cutelaba by KO at UFC 254.

In the second bout of the main card, Lauren Murphy faced of against late replacement Liliya Shakirova. Murphy was clearly the better striker and showed that throughout. In the end, she decided to go for a takedown which ended up being successful, and sunk in the rear-naked choke after 3 minutes and 31 seconds of the second round to which Shakirova tapped out.

In the third bout of the main card, Jacob Malkoun faced off against Phil Hawes. Both guys were making their UFC debuts with Malkoun going into the fight as an undefeated professional with a 4-0 record. Phil Hawes earned his UFC contract on Dana Whites Contender Series in September. In the end, the Australian was no match for Hawes as the American quickly KO'ed him in just 18 seconds!

In the fourth bout, Alexander Volkov faced off against Walt Harris. With both fighters coming off losses against Curtis Blaydes and Alistair Overeem respectively. Volkov looked to be better in striking exchanges using his reach advantage well before landing a brutal body front kick that hurt Harris badly and caused him to back up. From that point, Volkov followed up with strikes to the head to finish the fight.

Volkov follow up strikes to finish Walt Harris

Volkov follow up strikes to finish Walt Harris

In the co-main event, Robert Whittaker went up against Jared Cannonier in a UFC middleweight title eliminator. Going into the fight both guys were at -110 odds and the bookies couldn't pick out a favorite. However, the outcome was nowhere near as close as expected as Whittaker got quite a clear unanimous decision victory, nearly finishing Cannonier in the third round after landing a powerful head kick to drop Jared.

Khabib getting emotional after his second-round victory over Justin Gaethje.

Khabib getting emotional after his second-round victory over Justin Gaethje.

In the main event undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov squared off against interim champion Justin Gaethje. The first round started off with both guys feeling each other out and eventually turned into a kickboxing match before Khabib landed a takedown with less than a minute to go. In the second Khabib was able to get Gaethje down a lot faster and sunk in a slick triangle choke after just a minute and 34 seconds of round two. Once again a poor referee stoppage as Gaethje was choked out cold despite visibly tapping. After the fight things got very emotional for Nurmagomedov due to his father's passing. Khabib had a very deep connection with his father so it was clear his death affected him emotionally. The post-fight interview ended with Khabib leaving his gloves in the octagon and announcing his retirement.