UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier Preview
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, September 7, 2019
For the first time since 2014, the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi with a massive main event between UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov and interim-Lightweight Champion Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier in a bout that will determine who becomes the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion.
The undefeated Nurmagomedov comes into this fight after serving a suspension for his involvement in the post-fight brawl at UFC 229 last October, when he jumped over the fence of the octagon and attacked Conor McGregor’s corner, leading to a brawl ensuing between both camps.
Nurmagomedov dominated the fight and won by fourth round submission, which solidified his place as the best lightweight fighter in the world. While serving the suspension, the promotion had set up a series of fights in the lightweight division to keep all the contenders active and ensure that there was a clear number one contender to immediately step in to fight Nurmagomedov as soon as he finished serving the suspension.
Earlier in the year, the UFC intended on setting up a bout between UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway and Tony Ferguson however, that fight didn’t pan out so the promotion went with a rematch between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier for the interim-Lightweight Championship. Poirier fought an excellent fight and won by decision to become both the interim champion and definitive number one contender because he had defeated an active champion.
Poirier’s rise up the lightweight rankings has been incredible; in his last four fights, Poirier has defeated former WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje by TKO, former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis by TKO, former UFC and Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez by TKO, and reigning UFC Feathweight Champion Max Holloway by unanimous decision, putting an end to his 13-fight winning streak.
At 27-0, the champion Nurmagomedov is looking to further build on his impressive legacy in the sport and make the argument that he should be in the conversation of being the one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time. Nurmagomedov has dominated his opponents inside the octagon and has occasionally spoken to his opponents and telling them to give up all while controlling them in the clinch and landing strikes.
Although striking may be the only weak area in Nurmagomedov’s game, it doesn’t faze him at all and he’s still able to impose his will on his opponents and repeatedly take them down with ease. It’ll be interesting to see whether Poirier comes out looking for a knockout early or if he tries weathering the storm of Nurmagomedov’s takedowns.
I think that Khabib’s wrestling and grappling will be the difference maker and allow him to tire out Poirier and get the victory. The winner of the fight won’t have to wait long to find out who their next opponent will be as former interim-Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson is believed to be next in line for a title opportunity.
Photo Credit: UFC (@ufc)