Two of the three Octagon-side judges had Khabib Nurmagomedov losing the first round of his fight to Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Nurmagomedov ended up submitting Gaethje with a second-round triangle choke anyways, but it’s still interesting nonetheless to see how the judges scored the first round. According to the official scorecards, judges Sal D’Amato and Ben Cartlidge both saw the first round 10-9 in favor of the challenger Gaethje. Only judge Derek Cleary had the first round 10-9 in favor of the champion Nurmagomedov. See the scorecards below.
— Shakiel Mahjouri (@FightShakFight) October 24, 2020
During real-time on social media, it seemed as though most fans and media gave Nurmagomdov a slight edge in the first round, but there’s no doubt it was super close. Looking at the official statistics for the fight, both Nurmagomedov and Gaethje each landed 23 significant strikes in the first round, though Gaethje was far more efficient as he landed 63% of his strikes in the first round compared to 38% for the champion.
However, Nurmagomedov was also successful on one of two takedown attempts in the first round, and in a close round where the striking was very similar, it seemed as though that takedown would give him a slight edge when it came to the judges. The majority of the judges, though, were not swayed by Nurmagomedov’s takedown in the first round and instead valued Gaethje’s precision and the damage his low kicks caused more.
Of course, the scorecards never came into play since Nurmagomedov got the finish in the second round. Now 29-0 in his MMA career and 13-0 in the UFC, Nurmagomedov announced following the contest that he would be retiring from MMA. With the title now vacant, you have to figure that Gaethje will be in the mix to fight for the vacant belt, especially after hanging with the champ and taking one round from him in this fight.
How did you score the first round of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje?