UFC 242 picks: Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier headlines stacked card

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

September 5th, 2019

Dustin Porier’s long climb up the UFC ladder will culminate with a title clash against the most dominant force the UFC has ever seenKhabib Nurmagomedov. A high-octane rematch between Edson Barboza and Paul Felder will also be featured on the September 7 UFC 242 card from Abu Dhabi.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) vs. Dustin Poirier (25-5, 1 NC)

Khabib NurmagomedovDustin Poirier
There isn’t enough that can be said about Nurmagomedov’s dominance, and the odds heavily favor him to continue his long undefeated streak at Poirier’s expense. While Poirier is a worthy challenger to the throne, there is the sense he is out of his depth despite his credentials.

Nurmagomedov has been serving a suspension following the aftermath of his win over Conor McGregor in October, but it hasn’t been long enough where he will be coming in with rust. Poirier is also the perfect opponent for Nurmagomedov’s takedown-heavy offense.
The only real weakness in the champ’s makeup is his striking, which is average at best. Poirier doesn’t have enough in his tank to out-wrestle Nurmagomedov, so the challenger will have to force the champ into a firefight and crowd him against the cage to limit his mobility.

Nurmagomedov has shown a solid chin and was able to handle the larger and more accomplished striker in McGregor with ease before submitting him in the fourth. That doesn’t bode well for Poirier, as he couldn’t keep the smaller Max Holloway off him in his last fight.

Keeping this a close-quarters affair and staying off the ground is what Poirier needs to do, but there is a sense of inevitability that Nurmagomedov will get him on the mat after giving up the first round to adjust.

The ground and pound slows Poirier down and makes him less active with his striking, which turns his focus on trying to stuff the takedowns. Though Poirier hasn’t been submitted in nearly seven years, Nurmagomedov is going to have an opportunity to do just that late in the fight.

Nurmagomedov will get the submission and retain his title against a very game opponent.

MMA free pick: Nurmagomedov

Edson Barboza (-160) vs. Paul Felder (+130)

Barboza is hoping to snap a two-fight losing streak against former conqueror Felder. Felder’s awkward offense and his ability to control space should be enough to survive this one.

MMA free pick: Felder

Islam Makhachev (-365) vs. Davi Ramos (+280)

Two grappling specialists face off here, but Makhachev has more tools than the basic striking and grappling Ramos has. Makhachev takes a dominant decision.

MMA free pick: Makhachev (-355)

Curtis Blaydes (-475) vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (+355)

Blades is younger, stronger and has a better ground game. Abdurakhimov is prone to being taken down and he’ll get pounded out before he can make it interesting.

MMA free pick: Blaydes

Mairbek Taisumov (-270) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (+215)

Taisumov’s long layoff is troublesome, but Ferreira doesn’t have the power or style to exploit any rust. The heavy-handed Russian will score a stoppage here.

MMA free pick: Taisumov