UFC 242 is days away, and it’ll be a history-making event with the Octagon being placed at Abu Dhabi located in the United Arab Emirates. It’s the first time in over five years that the Ultimate Fighting Championship is being held in the UAE.
Headlining this weekend’s event will be the lightweight championship bout between Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier and the current title-holder Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov. Currently holding the title, Nurmagomedov is the favorite coming into the fight with -365 odds, while Poirier is a hefty underdog placed at +275.
Let’s go over the top three fights on the main card and my predictions for UFC 242. And if you need any help, you can always check our guide to MMA betting online. It covers everything from betting strategy to the best sites to bet on MMA.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier battle for the Lightweight Championship
For the first time since last October’s UFC 229, Khabib Nurmagomedov is making a return to the Octagon to defend his lightweight championship for the second time, and he’s laying his undefeated 27-0 record on the line in the process. Placed at -375 odds to win the fight against Dustin Poirier, “The Eagle” would take the lightweight title after taking out Al Iaquinta in April 2018, and would retain his title after defeating Conor McGregor in an October fourth-round submission.
Out of Russia, Nurmagomedov is incredibly effective based on his ability to put massive pressure on opposition, and he does this by stalking forward his competition to eventually grab them and slam them to the ground. In his last eight fights, Nurmagomedov has achieved takedowns on multiple occasions in each bout, and as a result he has an average tally of 5.09 takedowns in 15 minutes. On top of that, there’s been noticeable improvement with his striking, and that was certainly noticeable when he rocked McGregor with a right, and how well-timed the punch was, it was admirable.
For Poirier and his +275 odds, he aims to build on his current six-fight winning streak, the most consistent victorious stretch since starting out his career 7-0. Needless to say, Poirier is coming into this bout in excellent form. Back in April at UFC 236, Poirier would win an interim title match against Max Holloway in a unanimous decision. During this time, Nurmagomedov was serving a suspension. Before taking out Holloway, Poirier would achieve power wins over Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez, both former champions.
Representing the United States of America from Louisiana, Poirier enters this match with a large amount of experience as this bout will be his 23rd career UFC fight, and it shows very well in his composure with how relaxed and comfortable he feels in the Octagon. As far as his abilities, Poirier is lethal with his jab and how accurate it is, and not just that, but it comes along with a lot of speed as well. This allows Poirier to give himself some breathing room, and once he gets that separation, that’s when his multi-strike attack takes place. Poirier comes in with an average of 5.75 significant strikes-per-minute, while also taking 4.08 significant strikes-per-minute. Over his last six bouts, he’s only been taken down a total of three tallies, and he defends 69% of attempts against him.
For this fight, you can expect a showdown between a grappler and a classic striker. Look for Poirier to try and sustain the standing of the bout, and he’ll also have no problems swinging his fists at a power rate for an entire five rounds. With Nurmagomedov, you can expect him to apply immediate pressure to Poirier to try and take him down to the ground. If he can accomplishes that, that’s when he’ll then launch his punch-after-punch force or he’ll just force Poirier into a submission. When you look at the two fighters, you can expect a pretty evenly-matched bout in this one with both having outstanding conditioning. So, as I’m sure you already know, you can expect a lot of entertainment value in this one to go along with some solid bets.
BETTING PREDICTION: Khabib Nurmagomedov (-365)
For Edson Barboza, who is placed as the -155 favorite, he’s coming into this bout in horrible form, and this is because he’s lost three out of the last four fights that he’s been in. Prior, the Brazilian was putting in work and riding a three-fight winning streak, however, at UFC 219 he would take a blow suffering defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov. In his next fight afterwards, it would get even worse with a loss to Kevin Lee and the bout would be a doctor’s stoppage. Just recently, he would suffer a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje in March, and that would take place in the first round.
When it comes to striking, Barboza has a massive amount of power behind his hits. The biggest part of his fighting, however, are his leg kicks. The strength behind those kicks have gained him three finishes. Barboza is also good at saving his energy, particularly with his standup. That’s mainly with how firm it is and how effective that then becomes against his competition while they’re on the strike, because when they do strike and plant themselves, he’s able to then unleash fiery kicks that can destroy opponents. An issue that Barboza has is that when he moves backwards it effects his ability to drop his hands, this issue would be the No. 1 reason why he would suffer a knockout blow to Gaethje.
Unlike Barboza, Paul Felder (+125) is coming into this fight in excellent form, winning four of his last five bouts. And in Felder’s defense, the only loss would come in a split decision when he would break his arm, and even though it would happen early on, he would still be able to get himself to the judges’ scorecards. Before losing in that match to Mike Perry, Felder would be riding a three-fight finish streak, and all three would be elbow knockouts. After the Perry loss, he would then go on to rebound with a victory over James Vick earlier this year in February.
Out of Pennsylvania, Paul Felder has a huge reputation for being aggressive, and he does by limiting the cage for his opponent and he also cuts down on the breathing room as well. Felder is also very nifty in the Octagon, and his creativity includes spinning attacks and striking elbows, and he’s able to hit immediately after his competition misses him. Don’t look for Felder to take down Barboza on the floor, he hasn’t done this in a fight since he would earn a takedown mark against Daron Cruickshank, and that would take place three years ago in 2016.
Back in 2015, this bout would be the ‘fight of the night’ in a UFC event, and there, Edson Barboza would secure a victory and would do so in unanimous decision fashion. Since then, however, Paul Felder has put up much better performances tallying a winning record, while for Barboza, he’s put up an average 4-4. With the circumstances much different now, it’s only right that we have a rematch with this bout. The first go-around, Felder would be a bit off of his game plan by following Barboza around, letting him move in an uncut cage for leverage. Not just that, but Barboza was also very quick with his feet, and more speedy than usual in past fights. Despite Barboza not being in the best form, I think we’ll still have an evenly-matched contest that will provide a lot of entertainment, but with that previously-mentioned form, you have to take Paul Felder to claim the victory in the rematch.
BETTING PREDICTION: Paul Felder (+125)
Islam Makhachev is entering this match with a six-fight winning streak and steady-rocketing up the lightweight standings, and as a result, he’s placed as a -335 favorite to take out Davi Ramos. Before he entered the UFC, the Russian was riding an undefeated record, and that would eventually come to a halt after being knocked out by Adriano Martins in the first round — the fight would only be Makhachev’s second-career UFC fight. Since that K.O. though, Makhachev would go on a stretch to obtain five straight victories, and this would include two finishes in the first-round.
You can classify Makhachev as mainly a wrestler, and this is due to his statistical average of 4.25 takedowns per 15 minutes. In his six UFC wins, he managed to win by takedown in five of those fights. The sole win that wouldn’t come courtesy of takedown would be over Gleison Tibau, and that would be a knockout in the first minute of the first round. The reason why Makhachev is so lethal in the takedown game is because of the diversity of his methods. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single leg takedown, a double or the more unconventional moves, Makhachev has plenty in the arsenal to get the job done.
Sitting as the +255 underdog, Davis Ramos would go out in his UFC debut and would suffer defeat, however, he would recover quite well with a four-fight winning streak. When he first arrived into the Octagon, he would be carrying a very successful 6-1 mark, but a unanimous decision would start him out at 0-1 as a professional in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Like I said though, Ramos would recover well with four consecutive victories, and this would include three by submission, which obviously gives him some momentum coming into this fight.
Ramos has a lot of patience while on his feet, and he does this to scan his competition to feel them out and figure what’s the best attacking style to handle them in. As far as his striking is concerned, it’s pretty decent with the power of both his overhand right and he also can launch some steamy leg kicks. With that being said, Ramos’ main tool is his ability to take down opponents to the ground, and he does this to try and force a submission. In his 12 professional victories, seven of them have come in that fashion.
Speaking of takedowns as well, Ramos’ productivity in that realm is quite traditional, using double leg blasts to lock his opponent’s body and grab him down to the ground. Here’s the issue with that though for Ramos: I don’t see that being effective enough to take down Makhachev. On top of that, Ramos isn’t used to being on the defensive in regards to a takedown, and that could create a problem with him being unlikely to submit Makhachev. With the limited tools that Davis Ramos is going to have in this match, you’ve got to ride with Islam Makhachev for the win in this one.
BETTING PREDICTION: Islam Makhachev (-335)
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