UFC 254 play-by-play and live results

ABU DHABI – MMA Junkie is on scene and reporting live from Saturday’s UFC 254 event, and you can join us for live play-by-play and official results.

The event takes place at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2/ESPN+ and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

In the main event, dominant lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) takes on interim champ Justin Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a title unification bout. In the co-feature, Jared Cannonier (13-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) tries to keep his streak going and cement a possible title shot when he meets former middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC).

To discuss the show, be sure to check out our UFC 254 discussion thread. You can also get behind-the-scenes coverage and other event notes from on-site reporter John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) on Twitter.

Enjoy the fights, everyone.

Joel Alvarez vs. Alexander Yakovlev

Round 1 – The morning fights are underway. Alvarez comes out with a leg kick. Both fighters are tentative early, feeling one another out. Yakovlev shoots for a takedown and Alvarez drops for a guillotine. Yakovlev looks like his head is slipping out but Alvarez is cranking. He’s squeezing so hard he’s physically shaking. I’m not sure that’s a smart move. He could gas himself. Yakovlev pops his head out and is in Alvarez’s guard. Yakovlev lands some short punches. Alvarez shoots up for an armbar. He has a good grip. Yakovlev is reacting like he’s in trouble. He’s sitting back. Alvarez is almost on top of him now, still cranking. There’s the tap! Another first-round submission for Joel Alvarez.

Result: Joel Alvarez def. Alexander Yakovlev via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:00
Records: Joel Alvarez (18-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Alexander Yakovlev (25-11-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Broadcast: ESPN+
Referee: Jason Herzog

Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick

Round 1 – The fighters come out and exchange right away. Both women are in orthodox stances. Jojua lands a good right hand counter – and again. She’s looking sharp early. Maverick tries a stepping sidekick to the stomach. Maverick lands a leg kick and Jojua feeds her another combination. A hard left-hand lands for Maverick as the two fighters exchange. Jojua is bleeding. “Hut, hut, hut,” says Maverick on each combination. Maverick is finding her range here but Jojua is still having success as well. Maverick lands another hard combination. Jojus continues to push forward. Maverick comes flying in with a leg kick. Jojua lands a punch and Maverick answers with a body kick. Maverick lands another leg kick. Jojua lands another punch. Maverick lands a nasty lead elbow that connects. That was slick. The sidekick has become a factor. Maverick is doing an excellent job of using it to keep Jojua at bay. Another elbow lands for Maverick. That one sliced Jojua wide open. It appears the cut is coming from the bridge of the nose. The round ends. 10-9 Maverick. Actually my scorecard is for not. The doctor has waived off the fight after taking a look at the cut. That’s it. Miranda Maverick wins in her promotional debut.

Result: Miranda Maverick def. Liana Jojua via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 5:00
Recap:
Records: Liana Jojua (8-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC), Miranda Maverick (8-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Broadcast: ESPN+
Referee: Lukasz Bosacki

Sam Alvey vs. Da Un Jung

Round 1 – Jung comes flying out of the gate. He meets Alvey three-quarters of the way across the cage. Alvey shakes off a glove-touch and smiles. Jung lands a kick. Alvey is circling around the outside of the cage. Jung pursues him. Jung falls over trying to throw a kick. Alvey fires a leg kick. Jung answers with one of his own – and another. Alvey fires a combination. Jung connects with a combination of his own. Alvey wings a wild series of punches. They miss. Alvey lands a leg kick. A hard left-hand connects for Alvey. Jung smiles and clinches him against the cage. They break. On the next exchange, Alvey holds his eye. He may have gotten poked but the action continues. Alvey blindly throws. Alvey is bleeding but lands a leg kick. Alvey lands a combination, then a jab. Alvey connects on a right hand. Jung pokes Alvey in the eye again but there’s still no timeout from the referee. The round ends. 10-9 Alvey.

Round 2 – Jung comes out aggressive again. Alvey is still on the retreat. He looks like he’s tiring. Jung lands a combination. Alvey throws back. Jung lands a leg kick. Alvey is having success counter-punching, exploding from time-to-time. Jung comes in and lands a left hook. Alvey returns with a leg kick. That strike has been money for him thus far. Alvey’s nose is busted. He fires a combination at Jung, who puts his hand up. Alvey connects on a hard uppercut. Alvey lands a combination. The round ends. 20-18 Alvey.

Round 3 – Jung floors Alvey with an elbow to start Round 3. Alvey falls over backward and Jung pounces. Jung lands some follow up punches. Alvey rolls to his stomach to get up. Jung grabs hold of his back as Alvey scoots to the fence. Alvey gets Jung off of him and lands an uppercut. In the next exchange, Alvey lands a massive combination that sends Jung backward. Alvey is unloading but Jung throws back. They separate and Jung lands another hard standing elbow. Alvey is all sorts of wobbled but he survives again. This is an awesome round of action. With 30 seconds left, Jung breaks the clinch with a vicious elbow. Alvey goes flying backward again but stays standing. Alvey fires back. The round – and the fight – ends. MMA Junkie scores it 28-28 even.

Result: Sam Alvey vs. Da Un Jung ends in split draw (28-29, 29-28, 28-28)
Records: Sam Alvey (33-14-1 MMA, 10-9-1 UFC), Da Un Jung (13-2-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Broadcast: ESPN2/ESPN+
Referee: Anders Ohlsson
Judging: Darryl Ransom (29-28 Jung, scoring Round 2 for Alvey); David Lethaby (29-28, scoring Round 3 for Jung); Ben Cartlidge (28-28, scoring Round 1 and Round 2 for Alvey and a 10-8 in Round 3 for Jung)

Alex Oliveira vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Round 1 – Rakhmonov throws a huge punch early, which Oliveira (to his benefit) avoids. Rakhmonov lands a leg kick. Oliveira lands a body kick. Rakhmonov connects with an overhand right. A knee from Rakhmonov cranks Oliveira, who steps back. Rakhmonov guns a series of punches at Oliveira. They clinch and Oliveira reverses position. Oliveira lands a knee to the body. Rakhmonov almost escapes the clinch but Oliveira strong-arms him back to the fence. Oliveira ducks in for a takedown and Rakhmonov grabs hold of his neck. Rakhmonov drops for a guillotine. This looks tight – and from Oliveira’s reaction, it is. There are only 30 seconds left on the clock but Oliveira is struggling. There’s the tap. What a debut for Rakhmonov!

Result: Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Alex Oliveira via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 4:40
Recap:
Records: Alex Oliveira (22-8-1 MMA, 11-6 UFC), Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Welterweight
Broadcast: ESPN2/ESPN+
Referee: Lukasz Bosacki

Casey Kenney vs. Nathaniel Wood

Round 1 – Both fighters sprint to the center. Wood lands a leg kick followed by a boxing combination. Kenney comes in and Wood lands a right hand. The pace is furious here early. Kenney catches a Wood kick and shoves the foot away. Kenney slips on a head kick and pops back up. Both fighters trade kicks. They are trading. Kenney lands a combination. Wood hits an inside leg kick – and again. Kenney returns with a leg kick and a body kick. They trade kicks again. The right side of Wood’s body is already swollen and red. Kenney lands. Wood returns – and lands a leg kick. Kenney lands a one-two combination and tries to clinch but Wood shoves him away. Wood lands a kick. Kenney bashes him with a left hand to the face. Kenney lands a left-hand counter. That’s his punch thus far. Kenney lands a leg kick. Kenney is seemingly landing his left hand at will. Right on cue, Wood eats a major punch. What a chin. Kenney feints and lands a side kick. Kenney lands a leg kick. Kenney checks a leg kick from Wood. Kenney lands a pair of body kicks. Wood tries a spinning back kick which misses. Wood connects on a pair of punches. The round ends. 10-9 Kenney.

Round 2 – The second round is starting much like the first round ends. Both men come out chucking knuckles. Wood shoves Kenney, who stumbles backward. Wood lands an inside leg kick. Kenney cracks him with a right hand. Wood smacks the inside leg of Kenney with a kick. Kenney shoots for a takedown but Wood avoids. Kenney is pushing the pace. Wood feeds him a jab. He’s looking sharper here. Wood lands a combination. Kenney has slowed but is still throwing at a ridiculous clip. The volume in this fight is insane. Kenney lands a left hand and then punches Wood’s body. They trade kicks. Kenney throws a three-piece combination. Wood fixes his hair and smacks Kenney with a left hand. Wood circles away and resets. Kenney ties up Wood, who shoves him off. Kenney lands a punching combination followed by a body kick. Wood pumps the jab. Kenney grabs hold of the clinch. Wood pushes him off. Then Wood goes for the clinch. Kenney avoids and lands a leg kick. Wood lands a leg kick and a punch. Wood is having a better round but Kenney is still landing frequently. Kenney gives up on a takedown. The round ends. 19-19.

Round 3 – A big high-five touch-of-gloves signals the start of the final round. Both fighters throw punches and miss. Kenney closes the distance and Wood avoids. Kenney lands a punch to the body. Wood throws a punch which whiffs. Kenney rushes in and ties Wood up. Wood shoves him away. Wood connects with a left-hand. Kenney shoots and circles to Wood’s back against the fence. Wood falls to one knee but stands back up. Kenney leans on him and lands a knee to the stomach. Wood flips and tries to throw Kenney off. Kenney stays tight to Wood, who stands up to his feet. Kenney drags him back down. Wood threatens a guillotine to get back up and break the clinch. Wood fires a combination and shoots for a takedown of his own. Kenney defends it successfully. Wood lands a combination. Kenney tries to return with punches of his own but he’s visibly exhausted. Wood shoots for a takedown and Kenney shoves him away. Kenney shoots for a takedown but Wood escapes. Kenney cranks Wood with a straight-left down the pipe. Wood counters Kenney with a hard left hand. Kenney, who is bleeding from near his left eye, lands a body kick. With 10 seconds left, Kenney shoots for a takedown. Woods shoves him off. The round (and the fight) ends with the buzzer. What a fight! That’s the best one we’ve seen tonight for sure. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Kenney.

Result: Casey Kenney def. Nathaniel Wood via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Records: Casey Kenney (16-2-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Nathaniel Wood (17-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
Division: 140-pound contract weight
Broadcast: ESPN2/ESPN+
Referee: Anders Ohlsson
Judging: Ben Cartlidge (29-28, scoring Round 2 for Wood); Derek Cleary (29-28, scoring Round 3 for Wood); David Lethaby (30-27)

Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa

Round 1 – The big boys are up – and potentially fighting for their jobs. They touch gloves. Struve is always taller than his opponents – but the height differential in this one is particularly noticeable. Tuivasa swings and misses at Struve’s head. Tuivasa shoots for a takedown and ties Struve up against the cage. While tying up Struve, Tuivasa lands short punches to the body and head. Struve briefly threatens a guillotine choke but Tuivasa avoids and breaks the clinch. Struve lands a kick-punch combination. Tuivasa lands a right hand. Struve leaps in and lands a high kick. It seemed like it took forever from the windup until the time in landed and there wasn’t much steam behind it when landed. Tuivasa ties up Struve against the fence again. They separate and trade leg kicks. In the final 10 seconds, Tuivasa starts landing punches on Struve’s head. Struve looks hurt. He drops down, gets back up, and eats another series of punches. Struve falls again and referee Jason Herzog dives in to save him. That’s it! Tuivasa jumps outside the cage. Someone throws him a shoe but there is no beer in sight. No shoey – for now.

Result: Tai Tuivasa def. Stefan Struve via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:59
Recap:
Records: Stefan Struve (29-13 MMA, 13-11 UFC), Tai Tuivasa (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC)
Division: Heavyweight
Broadcast: ESPN2/ESPN+
Referee: Jason Herzog

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba

Round 1 – Here we go. The rematch we’ve all been waiting for is underway. Cutelaba throws a front kick to the body. Ankalaev returns with a kick of his own. This fight has already lasted longer than the first one. A front kick to the face lands for Ankalaev. Cutelaba counters an inside leg kick with a hard overhand punch. The two fighters exchange in the pocket. Ankalaev rips a body kick. Cutelaba returns with a kick of his own shortly thereafter. This is a much more measured fight than the first one. Cutelaba comes in and Ankalaev lands a knee. Cutelaba is chasing Ankalaev in a circle. Round and round they go. Ankalaev sits Cutelaba down with a left-hand. Cutelaba pops up. Moments later, Ankalaev and Cutelaba exchange. Ankalaev floors Cutelaba with a left hand. Cutelaba hits the mat and his head snaps back. Cutelaba covers up but Ankalaev sneaks in two hard punches that put Cutelaba out cold. Wow, that was violent.

Result: Magomed Ankalaev def. Ion Cutelaba via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 4:19
Recap:
Records: Magomed Ankalaev (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Ion Cutelaba (15-6 MMA, 4-5 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee: Anders Ohlsson

Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Lauren Murphy (13-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC), Liliya Shakirova (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Phil Hawes vs. Jacob Malkoun

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Phil Hawes (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Jacob Malkoun (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Middleweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Walt Harris vs. Alexander Volkov

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Walt Harris (13-8 MMA, 6-7 UFC), Alexander Volkov (31-8 MMA, 5-2 UFC)
Division: Heavyweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Jared Cannonier vs. Robert Whittaker

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Jared Cannonier (13-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC), Robert Whittaker (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC)
Division: Middleweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC), Justin Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/lists/ufc-254-khabib-nurmagomedov-justin-gaethje-play-by-play-live-results

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