UFC 242: Nurmagomedov a Huge Favorite to Defend His Crown
Several fights are scheduled on the card of UFC 242 with the highlight being the fight that sees Khabib Nurmagomedov defend his UFC Lightweight Championship title against challenger Dustin Poirier.
- Khabib Nurmagomedov is a -500 favorite to retain his crown in Abu Dhabi
- Dustin Poirier comes in at +350 but he is capable of an upset
- Nurmagomedov is undefeated in 27 bouts, winning eight by KO, nine by submission and 10 by decision
- Poirier’s record stands at 25 victories, five losses and one no contest. Those wins come by the way of 10 KO, seven submissions and six decisions
Khabib Nurmagomedov is the man to beat
Nothing is a given in MMA even if the UFC odds of -500 on Khabib Nurmagomedov suggest his fight is going to be a one-way street. Nurmagomedov is a phenomenal fighter who has been dominant throughout his UFC career so far and is deserving of his favorite tag.
Some skeptics of Nurmagomedov claim he excels against weaker opposition, often taking on fights he knows he is going to win. Those claims are complete rubbish, however, with Nurmagomedov’s last four opponents all being considered to be world-class.
Nurmagomedov defeated Michael Johnson by submission at UFC 205 before unanimous decisions claimed victories against Edson Barbosa and Al Iaquinta. Most famously, Nurmagomedov forced Conor McGregor to submit after the Irishman couldn’t escape Nurmagomedov’s neck crank.
The McGregor fight was Nurmagomedov’s last appearance in the octagon, partly because he received a suspension for the melee that happened afterward that saw Nurmagomedov leap back into the ring. That fight was 17 months ago, can Nurmagomedov shake off the rust and continue his dominance. The UFC Vegas odds of -500 sure suggest he can.
Dustin Poirier Loves an Underdog Title
You can bet your bottom dollar that Louisiana’s Dustin Poirier is not stepping into the octagon just to make the numbers up. “The Diamond” has secured this fight on merit and the +350 UFC 242 odds offered by Bovada, where you can grab a $250 welcome bonus, only tell part of the story.
Sure, Nurmagomedov is rightly installed as the fight’s favorite due to his unbeaten record, but Poirier is the top of the UFC picks for many experts. Sure, Poirier has lost five of his 31 matches, but he has not slipped to defeat since September 17th, 2016 when Michael Johnson knocked him out with punches.
The 30-year-old seems to be improving all the time with his victories in four of his last six fights being billed as Fight of the Night. One of the other two fights saw him earn Performance of the Night, with the other being a no contest after Eddie Alvarez landed illegal knees to Poirier’s head when he was a downed opponent.
Poirier is keen to unify the lightweight titles as he won the interim Lightweight Championship title while Nurmagomedov was suspended. Poirier was the underdog in that fight and we incorrectly predicted Max Holloway would defeat him at UFC 236. Poirier won by unanimous decision and earned Fight of the Night.
This is an intriguing fight as both fighters have an edge over the other in at least one department. Sadly for Poirier, Nurmagomedov has the X-factor and is at the top of our UFC picks.
Pick: Nurmagomedov to win at -500 (probably a fourth round TKO)
Barboza versus Felder is Hard to Call
It’s not unusual to have one fighter be a substantial favorite over another in UFC fights, but the Edson Barboza versus Paul Felder is anything but one-sided. Bovada make Barboza a -160 favorite and Felder a +130 underdog, but it could be much closer than the UFC odds suggest.
Barboza is an unusual fighter, one who has obvious skills but equally as obvious flaws in his game. Three defeats in his last four bouts have put major question marks over Barboza’s future, especially his first round knockout defeat at the hands of Justin Gaethje on March 30th.
Felder has devastating power when it comes to striking blows, as is evident by his 10 victories by the way of knockout. It was Barboza who inflicted Felder’s first defeat on him, in Felder’s 11th professional fight. It was an incredible contest that saw Barboza win with a unanimous decision in what as Fight of the Night.
We believe Felder can overcome his underdog tag and walk away with the victory against Barboza who can and does blow hot and cold. Fedler may have suffered a defeat two fights ago when he stepped up to welterweight but managed to defeat James Vick with a unanimous decision on his return to Lightweight.
Pick: Paul Felder at +130
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