The UFC heads to the United Arab Emirates this Saturday for the third time with arguably their best fight card yet. Given the time difference, the early preliminary card begins at 10 am EST, with the full preliminary card following for free on FX at 12 pm EST. The main card of the day will kick off at 2 pm EST on ESPN+ Pay Per View.
The main event of the afternoon features a UFC Lightweight Championship title unification between two savages in interim champion Dustin Poirier (+320) and current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (-440). Let’s take a deeper look at this lightweight matchup to see where we can find an edge.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0-0) vs. Dustin Poirier (25-5-0)
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on September 6, 2019.
Khabib Nurmagomedov brings his undefeated record to UFC 242, having most recently fought nearly a year ago at UFC 229 against Conor McGregor. In the much anticipated, and even more talked about since, fight, Khabib turned McGregor into a rag doll and followed up the in-cage violence by jumping out of it to go after McGregor and his camp again. In the 15 plus years I have been following the sport, the hostility between those two has become one of the ugliest, and most real-hate relationships I have seen to date. That night inside the octagon, it was almost as if Khabib intentionally drew the fight out to punish McGregor with his fists, something he rarely leans on, before showing the world why he is one of the best grapplers on the planet when he was ready to in the fourth round. In what was his first title defense since claiming the lightweight belt, Khabib put the division on notice and showed virtually zero weaknesses in his game.
Fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida, Dustin Poirier enters the octagon Saturday having not lost since September of 2016, picking up four ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses in his six fights since. Unlike Khabib who likes to maul his opponents on the ground until they are left lifeless from both physical and mental exhaustion, Poirier is a striker who has ended three of his last four fights in TKO fashion. Poirier is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert and UFC veteran who made his debut in the company nearly nine years ago and has since claimed victories over the likes of Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis during his ascent of the lightweight division.
You have to go back to November 2016 to find the last time Khabib ended a fight by anything other than points or submission. In fact, just three times since he has been in the UFC (2012) has he accomplished such a feast. Unlike his fight against McGregor, however, there has been little to no animosity between these two fighters in the lead-up to this event. That being said, Poirier knows if this fight goes to the ground, he is in for a world of trouble against one of the best wrestlers the sport has ever seen in Khabib. I expect him to come out swinging early and often, and if that fails or Khabib doesn’t catch him early with a counter, for him to play defense until the final bell.