UFC 242: Nurmagomedov vs Poirier Betting Preview, Odds & Prediction

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov puts his UFC lightweight title on the line in the main event of UFC 242.
  • Nurmagomedov faces interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in a title unification bout.
  • Will Nurmagomedov’s mauling wrestling style once again be the difference-maker?

The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for the first time in more than five years for UFC 242 on Saturday’s (Sept. 7) at The Arena at Yas Island. In the main event, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov faces interim lightweight champ Dustin Poirier in a title unification bout.

The main card for UFC 242 streams on ESPN+ at 2:00 PM ET, following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass. Early prelims kick off at 10:00 AM ET.

NURMAGOMEDOV VS POIRIER ODDS

Fighter Moneyline Odds (Sep. 3)
Khabib Nurmagomedov -450
Dustin Poirier +325

HOW WE GOT HERE

Nurmagomedov captured the UFC lightweight title in April 2018 with a unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta. In his first defense of the 155-pound crown, Nurmagomedov faced Conor McGregor last October. Nurmagomedov submitted the former two-division kingpin in the fourth round of that contest.

Almost immediately after he secured the victory, Nurmagomedov started a near riot when he leaped over the cage to go after McGregor’s cornerman, Dillon Danis. Nurmagomedov was suspended nine months and fined $500,000 for his actions.

With Nurmagomedov out of action, the UFC decided to crown an interim lightweight champion. Poirier competed as a featherweight for the UFC for more than four years. In 2015, following a knockout loss to McGregor, he moved up to lightweight. Since that 10-pound jump, Poirier is 9-1 (with one no contest).

He has wins in his past four outings, three of which came by way of knockout. Poirier won the interim title in April with his decision victory over Holloway. Poirier has earned five fight-night bonuses in his past six contests.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Obviously, the undisputed UFC title is the big prize for these two, but there are several other items on the line at UFC 242.

For Nurmagomedov, there is his unbeaten record and his seeming invincibility. No one has figured out a way to deal with his mauling fighting style. Other than UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones, no UFC fighter, has the type of unassailable aura surrounding them that Nurmagomedov does.

For Poirier, this fight represents a lifetime of work. A ninth-grade dropout, Poirier has concentrated on nothing but fighting for years. His sole focus has been to become the best fighter in the world. As Poirier said leading up to this bout, UFC 242 represents “25 minutes to make life fair.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

Khabib Nurmagomedov Category Dustin Poirier
30 Age 30
27-0 Record 25-5-0-1
8 Knockout Wins 12
9 Submission Wins 7
10 Decision Wins 6
5’10” Height 5’9″
155 Weight 155
70″ Reach 72″
Orthodox Stance Southpaw
4.29 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute 5.75
49% Striking Accuracy 49%
1.70 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute 4.08
66% Striking Defense 56%
5.09 Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes 1.63
44% Takedown Accuracy 37%
84% Takedown Defense 69%
0.6 Submission Average Per 15 Minutes 1.2

STRONGEST SKILLS

Nurmagomedov is a volume wrestler on the feet. He doesn’t care if he doesn’t land every takedown as long as he can make his opponent expend massive amounts of energy defending those attempts. When Nurmagomedov does land takedowns, he’s excellent at forcing his opponent against the cage and limiting their ability to get back to their feet. He does this with wrist control and unrelenting ground strikes. Opponents of Nurmagomedov’s often have to make a decision, do they continue to absorb those blows or give up their back and fight off a submission hold?

Nurmagomedov’s style is not hard to figure out. However, Nurmagomedov is so good at imposing his will he has become unstoppable. He’s scored at least one takedown in his past eight bouts.

Poirier is good at landing inside kicks to the lead leg and outside calf kicks on his opponents. If he can establish those early and wear out the lead leg of Nurmagomedov — and avoid being taken down — he can slow Nurmagomedov down and get him thinking about those kicks. That could open things up for Poirier’s hands, which are his strong suit.

Poirier has excellent hands and good head movement. You won’t see Poirier throw single strikes. He’s all about volume and combinations, which can sometimes lead to him getting a little reckless.

Another thing that Poirier does well is land strikes straight down the middle when his opponent covers up to avoid the hooks to the side of the head. An example of this was the knee Poirier landed against Max Holloway that opened up a cut on the featherweight champion’s head.

PREDICTION

Poirier has the tools to give Nurmagomedov problems. However, if Poirier doubts himself at all, if he lets one thought about Nurmagomedov’s vaunted wrestling and ground skills creep into his mind, it could be a problem. Poirier could unconsciously start to fight more defensively and more reserved if he thinks about those wrestling skills. That’s something that Nurmagomedov and his team rely on. Nurmagomedov knows the fighters he faces worry about the takedown more than anything.

It’s hard to pick against Nurmagomedov. He only needs one takedown to change the tone of any fight. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday.

Nurmagomedov does get tagged at times. With someone who has the power that Poirier has and the ability to sense the right time to swarm, Nurmagomedov might want to employ less of a rushing forward style in his striking.

It’s hard to pick against Nurmagomedov. He only needs one takedown to change the tone of any fight. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday.

Pick: Nurmagomedov (-450)

Trent Reinsmith

Trent covers UFC and MMA for MTS. He currently covers MMA for MMA Junkie and Forbes. He has also written for Vice, Bloody Elbow, Fight! Magazine, UFC 360, and Narratively among others. He has been involved with MMA since he and some friends threw some money together to purchase the pay-per-view of UFC 1, and the rest is history.