Sports writer, ANDREW MCENALLAY dissects this weekend’s UFC action. Check out his UFC tips and preview for all five main card fights, including the main event between Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov and Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier.

UFC 242 Tips & Preview – Khabib Nurmagomedov v Dustin Poirier

06:15 (AEDT), Sunday 8th September @ The Arena, Abu Dhabi

Career records: 

  • Nurmagomedov 27-0-0 (8 by KO/TKO & 9 by submission)
  • Poirier 25-5-0 1nc (12 by KO/TKO & 7 by submission)

Last bouts: 

  • Nurmagomedov def McGregor – Rd 4 submission
  • Poirier def Holloway – Decision

Analysis: UFC 242 is serving up a genuine blockbuster main event. Lightweight supremacy is on the line for two fighters coming off the biggest wins of their already illustrious careers. Khabib will find himself back in the Octagon for the first time after the post-McGregor fight theatrics  at UFC 229 which saw him slapped with a 6 month suspension and $500,000 fine. On the other hand, Poirier is coming off a decision victory against one of the greatest of all time in Max Holloway for the interim Lightweight title.

Opening as the $1.22 favourite, Khabib is considered by some to be pretty close to unbeatable. With 0 losses on his record, the Dagestani native has hardly been troubled in recent years. Surprisingly, it was Michael Johnson who seemed to give Khabib the most problems in recent fights as a result of his volume punching.

Poirier will likely follow the same tact if he is going to come away victorious. At the same time, he possesses all the attributes that point to the fact that this may be Khabib’s toughest match up in his career. Poirier is as tough as they come and will be striking at a high volume to try and subdue Khabib’s ground game. Although Nurmagomedov has the advantage on the ground, Poirier has effective takedown defence which will keep him in the fight.

While Poirier has all the means to make this an enthralling fight, Khabib will lean on his superior cardio to grind Poirier down and come away with the belt.

Tip: Khabib by submission or points

UFC 242 Tips & Preview – Edson Barboza v Paul Felder

04:45 (AEDT), Sunday 8th September @ The Arena, Abu Dhabi

Career records: 

  • Barboza 20-7-0 (KO/TKO & 1 by submission)
  • Felder 16-4-0 (10 by KO/TKO & 1 by submission)

Last bouts: 

  • Barboza def by Gaethje – Rd 1 KO
  • Felder def Vick – Decision

Analysis: Barboza will enter the octagon as the $1.62 favourite against Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder. Although Barboza went down to a devastating Gaethje KO in his last outing and Felder put in one of his career best performances, Barboza looks to be the safer pick between the two.

These two met back in 2015 with Barboza coming away victories via decision. The fight looked to be a clear mismatch with Barboza possessing superior striking abilities and a touch more athleticism.  While there isn’t much that separates them expect Barboza to have his nose ahead in most categories.

On the other hand, Felder is an incredibly tough fighter who has adapted his game well as he has gotten older. This was never more evident than in his last fight against James Vick. With Vick on the cusp of being a Top 10 contender, Felder was able to pick him apart and as a result, shot up the roster finding himself taking part in a co-main event.

Although Felder won’t go away, expect Barboza to get the job done in a close contest with plenty of action.

Tip: Barboza to win @ $1.62

UFC 242 Tips & Preview – Islam Makhachev v Davi Ramos

04:30 (AEDT), Sunday 8th September @ The Arena, Abu Dhabi

Career records: 

  • Makhachev 17-1-0 (3 by KO/TKO & 7 by submission)
  • Ramos 10-2-0 (1 by KO/TKO & 7 by submission)

Last bouts: 

  • Makhachev def Tsarukyan – Decision
  • Ramos def Hubbard – Decision

Analysis: Islam Makhachev has amassed an impressive 9-1 record in the UFC to date and a member of Khabib’s Eagles MMA team. Much like his friend and training partner, he will join Khabib at UFC 242 as the firm favourite coming in at $1.29.

Both fighters have 7 submissions to their name, although Ramos may have a slight advantage should this fight get to the ground. Makhachev should be able to use his length to keep the fight standing up. If the fight does find its way to the floor, he has enough wrestling pedigree to make it an interesting match up.

While there isn’t much separating the two, expect Makhachev to get the win.

Tip: Makhachev to win @$1.29

UFC 242 Tips & Preview – Curtis Blaydes v Shamil Abdurakhimov

04:15 (AEDT), Sunday 8th September @ The Arena, Abu Dhabi

Career records: 

  • Blaydes 11-2-0 1nc (8 by KO/TKO)
  • Abdurakhimov 20-4-0 (9 by KO/TKO & 4 by submission)

Last bouts: 

  • Blaydes def Willis – Decision 
  • Abdurakhimov def Tybura – Rd 2 TKO

Analysis: Blaydes has proven himself as a legitimate Heavyweight contender with wins over some legitimate contenders. Although he was knocked out in the first round in his bout with Ngannou, Blaydes proved he belongs in the upper echelon of the Heavyweight division by bouncing back in his win over Willis.

Opening as the $1.21 favourite, a good showing here will open up plenty of doors for the Oklahoma native. Blaydes has been given a golden opportunity to test himself against a fighter with genuine knockout power. On the other hand, Abdurakhimov is 5-1 in his last six fights with his only loss coming against Derrick Lewis. The match up against Lewis looked to be too much too soon for Abdurakhimov and he’s slowly been improving since.

As a result of superior wrestling abilities, expect Blaydes to continuously get his opponent to the mat and come away with the win.

Tip: Blaydes via KO/TKO

UFC 242 Tips & Preview – Mairbek Taisumov v Diego Ferreira

04:00 (AEDT), Sunday 8th September @ The Arena, Abu Dhabi

Career records: 

  • Taisumov 27-5-0 (15 by KO/TKO & 9 by submission)
  • Ferreira 15-2-0 (3 by KO/TKO & 6 by submission)

Last bouts: 

  • Taisumov def Green – Decision
  • Ferreira def Khabilov – Decision

Analysis: To kick off the main card, Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov takes on Diego Ferreira for his first fight in 12 months. On the other hand, Ferreira is coming off an impressive victory against Rustam Khabilov back in February. Ferreira solidified his position as someone to watch in that fight and now has another mountain to climb in Taisumov.

Although Taisumov hasn’t lost since 2014 and while he’s been rather inactive, his victories have all been impressive. With scary knockout power at his disposal, “Beckan” will be looking to pick his moments to trade blows. While his opponent is a genuine brawler, Taisumov has 15 KO’s on his record and will likely add one more in Abu Dhabi.

Tip: Taisumov via KO/TKO