UFC 242 - Abu Dhabi Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 242? Saturday 7th September, 2019 - 15:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC 242? The Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
What channel is UFC 242 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC 242? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ which can you sign up to here!
Are tickets still available for UFC Fight Night 242? https://www.ufc.com/tickets
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier
Khabib Nurmagomedov continues to edge towards greatness as no opponents have yet to challenge his unblemished record but his toughest test has arisen in the form of an experienced veteran in his prime – Dustin Poirier.
Although this is only Nurmagomedov’s second title defence, he is currently ranked the #2 best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and though that may be premature in terms of the opponents he has faced, he has the skill set to surpass that and become one of the best fighters of all time.
After the circus that was UFC 223, Nurmagomedov ended up fighting Al Iaquinta for the vacant title and successfully defended it against Conor McGregor back in October last year. Thankfully, he is more active which means we get to witness epic match-ups like this which the lightweight division has been threatening for years.
Dustin Poirier makes his 23rd UFC appearance and is in the form of his life. He has lost once in his last 11 fights and is coming off a dispatching of four top contenders. He finished Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and just earned a hard-fought decision against one of the pound-for-pound best Max Holloway.
This will not be a matter of if Nurmagomedov can take Poirier down but when. Poirier is one of the most complete fighters on the roster with elite striking and jiu-jitsu but the Dagestani’s wrestling is on such a level that he can nullify all of these skills.
Poirier will no doubt be preparing to fight off his back where he will offer a threat but Nurmagomedov will drain the energy out of him by controlling him, making him work and breaking him down with ground-and-pound.
That said, Poirier has every chance to cause the upset. McGregor is the best striker the Russian has fought so far and he was too hesitant to throw in fear of being taken down but Poirier won’t have that fear. He is a seasoned grappler with phenomenal cardio and will be a threat throughout the fight.
Poirier’s best chance is to catch Nurmagomedov early with a knockout being his most realistic method of victory. This should be Nurmagomedov’s hardest fight so far in his career but he is still expected to keep Poirier on the mat for the majority of the fight. He will look for a finish but Poirier should force this into a decision.
Winner: Nurmagomedov via Decision
Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder
Paul Felder flies out to Abu Dhabi for redemption and to avenge the first loss of his career inflicted by Edson Barboza. The Brazilian out-struck Felder to earn a thrilling decision and nobody is disappointed to see these warriors rematch especially as they have been strategically placed on this card so they can serve as a back-up if Khabib Nurmagomedov or Dustin Poirier drop out of their lightweight title fight.
Their fight back in 2015 was a technical war. Barboza had more class on the night, serving up more damage, but Felder displayed his toughness by eating every leg kick and punch as well as a spinning wheel kick to the crown jewels.
Since, Barboza has gone 4-4 and Felder 6-3. Barboza enjoyed vintage knockouts over Beneil Dariush and Dan Hooker but has fought killer after killer with losses to Tony Ferguson, Nurmagomedov Kevin Lee and Justin Gaethje; who delivered a hellacious knockout in his last fight.
Felder has only lost once in his last five which includes his most impressive performance against Charles Oliveira. However, he then lost a split decision to Mike Perry, but to take Perry to a split decision with a badly broken arm was an achievement and he followed up that performance with a unanimous decision over James Vick in his last fight.
This is likely to be a similar battle to their first meeting and a showcase of devastating Muay Thai. However, expect to see more finely tuned versions with Felder better prepared for Barboza’s thunderous leg kicks which may provoke him to look for a takedown.
Felder is extremely strong and as we saw in his fight with Oliveira, his grappling is underrated which has been Barboza’s only chink in his armour. However, as soon as Barboza unleashes his ferocious striking arsenal, expect Felder to get angry and respond with his own.
As good as Felder's striking is, it is essential he closes the distance by clinching up to nullify Barboza's strengths and hurt the Brazilian with his nasty elbows. However, this is likely to turn into another war on the feet and as Barboza is even more powerful, quicker and has the best kicks in the game the only factor that will prevent a finish is Felder’s toughness.
Winner: Barboza via Decision
Islam Makhachev vs Davi Ramos
Two grappling juggernauts make the trip to Abu Dhabi for the lightweight spectacle as Islam Makhachev and Davi Ramos look to extend their exceptional records and winning streaks.
Makhachev is another product from Dagestan, and a training partner and close friend to Khabib Nurmagomedov putting reason to his outstanding wrestling. He has only lost one fight in his career – a knockout on his UFC debut against Adriano Martins. However, he has strung together five wins since coming off a hard-fought decision over Arman Tsarukyan.
Fellow grappling wizard Ramos is a decorated and world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu now applying his trade to MMA with great success. He also lost his UFC debut, a unanimous decision against Sergio Moraes, but he has won all of his fights since: submitting Chris Gruetzemacher, Nick Hein, John Gunther and now coming off a decision over Austin Hubbard.
This is a fantastic match-up between an elite wrestler and elite jiu-jitsu practitioner. Wrestling at the level of Makhachev’s is usually enough to control any fight, however, he will not be able to control Ramos on the ground easily.
The Brazilian is one of the most dangerous fighters off his back in the UFC and although he gives up four inches in height, he is a powerhouse and will have the strength advantage. He has worked on his striking and is super aggressive but this suits his style as he welcomes being taken down.
The grappling scrambles will be fascinating but it is hard to see either fighter dominating the exchanges so a deciding factor could be the stand-up battle where Ramos’ aggression and power may catch Makhachev off guard, but the Dagestani is unlikely to make a mistake and grind out a decision.
Winner: Makhachev via Decision
Curtis Blaydes vs Shamil Abdurakhimov
Breaking up the lightweight showdown on the main card is a heavyweight scrap between Curtis Blaydes and Shamil Abdurakhimov who both have eyes on a title shot down the line.
Blaydes bounced back after suffering his second loss against his nemesis Francis Ngannou. The Cameroonian handed Blaydes his first career loss with a knockout back in 2016 and repeated the feat back in November last year. However, he responded with a dominant decision over Justin Willis with a typical wrestler performance.
Abdurakhimov is on an impressive three-fight winning streak. After getting knocked out by Derrick Lewis in 2016, the Dagestani went on to starch Chase Sherman, outpoint Andrei Arlovski, and is coming off another knockout finish, this time over Marcin Tybura.
Abdurakhimov is an excellent grappler but his bread and butter is his striking. He is a big powerful man but he is a skilled and calculated striker. Blaydes will be well aware of his talents and although Ngannou is a different beast, his only two losses were when he got caught on the feet and he knows he cannot afford to make that mistake again.
Expect Blaydes to shoot in for a takedown as soon as possible and he has the ability to subdue the Russian for enough time to earn the points. He will look for ground-and-pound and may capture a late knockout but more likely a decision.
Winner: Blaydes via Decision
Mairbek Taisumov vs Carlos Diego Ferreira
The main card kicks off with two lightweights in red hot form. Mairbek Taisumov on a six-fight win streak takes on Carlos Diego Ferreira who has won his last four.
Taisumov will benefit from the Russian support in Abu Dhabi but has not needed any help in taking one UFC scalp after another. He knocked out five opponents in a row including Damir Hadzovic and Felipe Silva and is coming off a unanimous decision over Desmond Green.
Carlos Diego Ferreira is fit and healthy after pulling out of his fight with Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 237 back in May. After two losses in a row, Ferreira has re-surged with four impressive wins on the bounce. He earned a unanimous decision over Oliver Aubin-Mercier before knocking out Jared Gordon and Kyle Nelson. Then, in his last outing he earned another unanimous decision over Rustam Khabilov, handing him his first loss in seven fights.
Taisumov is a monster on the feet and Ferreira is a beast on the mat as a third degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but they are exceptional everywhere.
Considering how dangerous they are in the respective areas Taisumov will be wise to keep the fight on the feet and Ferreira is confident enough to stand and trade with him which could be costly considering the Russian’s power.
If Ferreira can get his hands on Taisumov he can take the fight away from him, constantly threatening a submission. However, his confidence in his hands could be his undoing as the Russian’s power is for real.
Winner: Taisumov via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.