The UFC 242 main event is probably the biggest fight of the year. Khabib is back to defend his lightweight title against interim champ Dustin Poirier.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier
I think Poirier is a very live dog in this fight. Poirier has looked exception in his last four UFC fights, beating Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez by finish, and then outclassing Max Holloway over 5 rounds. That’s quite the streak of big wins over elite fighters. In that span Poirier showed a ton of heart and also an improved game from a technique perspective.
I would argue that Poirier’s resume is actually better than Khabib’s at lightweight. Dustin has gone 9-1-1 since moving to lightweight with the only loss being a flash knockout.
Khabib has been dominant in his recent wins, but he’s only gone 5-0 in the same span of time that Poirier went 9-1-1, and his first fight in that span was against a UFC newcomer in Darrell Horcher. Khabib’s biggest win was last year over a Conor McGregor that hadn’t won a UFC fight in two years. Before that he beat two vastly overrated fighters in Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta. Barboza refused to throw his kicks for fear of being taken down, while Al simply isn’t very good with only one decent win since 2015.
What I’m trying to get at is Khabib has really not had a high level of competition. That’s not entirely his fault with his fights with Tony Ferguson continually falling through, and Conor McGregor being the money fight last year. But most would argue that fights with Gaethje and Holloway are higher level competition.
All of that to say that I think Khabib is overrated. He has this air of invincibility, but that’s because he’s had favourable match-ups, and guys are scared to work offense for fear of being taken down. Poirier is going to look to do his own damage and his get-up game is very solid.
I think Poirier will shock the world on Saturday and get this lightweight division moving.
Play: Poirier +300
Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder
If you read above, you will know I’m not too high on Edson Barboza. That said, this is the style match-up that can favor him because Felder is a guy who likes to stand and bang.
On paper this seems like a good match-up for Barboza, but I’m not convinced. I think Felder is a complete fighter, who is a student of the game and I expect him to come in with a good strategy to defeat Barboza. Felder is 4-1 in his last 5 fights with the only loss coming in a very tight fight with Mike Perry where Felder broke his arm early in the fight, but still only lost by a split decision against a very dangerous opponent.
I think Felder is ready to make a big splash in the division and a win here over Barboza should shoot him into title contention.
Play: Felder +147