UFC 242 is taking on new land when they land in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7. We present our favorite bets and picks for these UFC 242 matchups.
The card is being headlined by one of the current pound-for-pound best in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.
The co-main event features another lightweight showdown between two absolute killers in Edson Barboza and Paul Felder.
The card is set to be historic, and with a lineup like that for the last two fights of the night, it is certainly hard to argue that.
Main Event Preview: Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier
The current odds for the fight are as follows:
*UFC 242 odds are subject to change
The odds are in the current champ’s favor as if it was to any surprise of anyone. Nurmagomedov is undefeated, and with his current track record, it is really hard to see who can actually beat him at this point.
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Many said that an elite striker would spell the end of Nurmagomedov’s reign, but with dominant wins over guys like Edson Barboza and Conor McGregor, I don’t know if that is exactly the case. If it’s a wrestler, good luck. I don’t think anyone at 155 can contend with Nurmagomedov’s grappling, so that is out of the picture.
Then you have a guy like Dustin Poirier, a scrapper who will be in your face until the very end, whether that spells doom for you or him. I’m not saying Poirier seems like the ideal candidate to dethrone Nurmagomedov, but grittiness may get him through quite a bit.
Path to Victory for Nurmagomedov
For Nurmagomedov, the path to victory is the same that it has been in pretty much all of his UFC fights: Score the takedown and go to work. However, what is most impressive about his game as of late is his evolved stand-up. I have no doubt that Nurmagomedov couldn’t fare decent standing up with Poirier, but I think he’ll have to do it after wearing him out a bit on the mat.
For now, all Nurmagomedov will need to do throughout the first couple of rounds is be patient and wait for his time to get the fight to the mat and slowly start to break down Poirier with his ferocious ground-and-pound.
After he’s worn Poirier down, I don’t see why Nurmagomedov couldn’t take a breath and exchange a bit on the feet, but he could easily just keep the fight on the ground if he chose to.
Overall, between his pressure and insane pace once the fight hits the floor, I think Nurmagomedov’s wrestling and mauling could wrap this up within three rounds.
Path to Victory for Poirier
For Poirier, the path to victory will really be in his heart. Unless he scores a quick KO in the opening seconds of the fight, he’s going to have to be prepared to be taken down. He’ll also have to be prepared to survive and try to advance positioning.
Against Nurmagomedov, this is much easier said than done. However, I don’t think the task is impossible. If Poirier can find his way back to the feet throughout a few rounds, I believe his pressure style of boxing can really put Nurmagomedov in very uncomfortable situations.
If he is able to stay on the feet for a decent amount and mix up his combinations, he could play spoiler in the Nurmagomedov party and perhaps have one of the biggest upsets we’ve seen in a while.
I also like a type of plan related to Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren. We saw what happened there in that classic striker vs. grappler matchup, so I think a similar plan of just waiting to counter Nurmagomedov’s takedown may also be a good idea, but it is quite risky. However, when you are fighting Nurmagomedov, you’ll need to take a few of those to come out victorious.
Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier Pick
As much as I love an underdog story, I really don’t see anyone at 155 besides Ferguson at this point. His grappling and mauling abilities are just unmatched, and his striking has evolved quite a bit, so I just don’t see an area of the fight where Poirier will have a large advantage over Nurmagomedov.
With that said, I pick Nurmagomedov doing his usual and finishing this fight via 3rd-round TKO on the mat.
Co-Main Event Preview: Barboza vs. Felder
The odds for the fight are as follows:
*UFC 242 odds are subject to change
This is a rematch of a fight that took place back in 2015, where Barboza came out victorious via unanimous decision. The fight was a solid matchup, but in the end, Barboza just had the edge for most of the fight.
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Now, we’re in a different place at 155, and anything is possible in this rematch, which by all accounts, should be fireworks. Barboza is coming off a brutal KO loss to Justin Gaethje, while Felder is coming off a solid win over James Vick via Unanimous decision.
Path to Victory for Barboza
Barboza is one of the best strikers at 155, and perhaps even in the UFC. He’s had some hiccups along the way, but I still think he is one of the top guys at lightweight. I think for him, patience and timing will be his best friend in this rematch.
I expect Felder to come out a bit stronger than he did in the last fight, so it should be something that Barboza is prepared for. If Barboza is able to dictate the pace and the angles that are presented, I see no problem as to why he couldn’t find victory once again over Felder.
However, another “it” factor Barboza should be preparing for is that Felder is one tough cookie to crack, and this fight will most likely go the full three rounds, should Barboza not find himself in trouble either.
However, as I said, I think just making sure that he is the one who is controlling the tempo and range will earn Barboza another UD victory over “The Irish Dragon.”
Path to Victory for Felder
For Felder to come out victorious, he needs to establish himself in this fight and fast. Just as Gaethje did, he’ll need to disrupt the movement and timing of Barboza, who can put anyone out with one good look.
I think pressure and getting on the inside of Barboza is key in this rematch, and I think Felder is more than capable of it. Felder can also eat a good shot, so I think if he presents himself with full confidence while closing the distance on Barboza, he’ll pose a real threat, and may even score a KO if not a submission win.
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Barboza vs. Felder Pick
I’m a bit torn here. If this fight was taking place back in late 2017, I’d say Barboza easily takes this in three rounds. However, times have changed, and Barboza has lost three out of his last four, which is something that should be taken into consideration.
Also, Felder has really evolved and come into his own, despite not being on a massive win streak. Overall though, my pick is that Felder gets it done this time, but I see it going the distance and him winning unanimously (29×28 x3).