Saturday September 7th 2019 at The Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Main Card: 2pm ET on PPV
Preliminary Card: 12 ET on FX
Early Preliminary Card: 10:15am ET on ESPN+
This weekend the UFC heads to Abu Dhabi for its latest Pay-per-view instalment, UFC 242.
Personally I like these Asia UFC cards as they begin just before midday for the east coast, and the main card starts early afternoon. It pretty much lines up perfectly with the college football games too.
Looking at the fight card as a whole, it’s got some competitive fights and some serious talent spread around, although many casual MMA fans might not be aware of some of them yet. It’s getting quite a mixed reaction because of this, but if you’re tuning in from the start, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed. There’s going to be some fun fights, and the main card specifically is compacted full of high-level guys.
Let’s jump into this week’s picks for UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier!
Omari Akhmedov vs. Zak Cummings
Early Preliminary: Middleweight Bout – 185lbs
Omari “Wolverine” Akhmedov – Record: 18-4-1
Zak Cummings – Record: 23-6
We head straight into the early prelims for our first pick of the card.
In this competitive middleweight bout, we have two former welterweights squaring-off, each vying to close in on a shot against a ranked opponent in the MW division.
Akhmedov has looked decent, but certainly not like a world-beater since moving up to 185lbs. A few people seem to be backing him in this contest, despite his mediocrity, and the fact that we’ve only seen him fight once since December 2017. For me, he doesn’t have the pace, power, nor cardio to go with some of these middling middleweights. He did beat Tim Boetsch in his most recent fight, but that win doesn’t mean a great deal in 2019, and especially not when he got out-landed by the sluggish heavy-handed veteran.
The pick for me is Cummings. He’s never the ‘sexy’ pick to make as he’s not really outstanding in any area of his game, but he is great at getting results. Even when looking back at his loses, he doesn’t have any terrible defeats. The man is just plain consistent, and only ever loses to people that are notably better than him.
I see Cummings using his unorthodox fluid-striking to land pretty freely on Akhmedov over the duration of the bout. He doesn’t pack a whole lot of power, but as we saw from his head kick on Trevin Giles last time out, he does have a fight ending technique or two that he can throw.
2u – Zak Cummings @ +104
Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder
Co-Main Event: Lightweight Bout – 155lbs
Edson “Junior” Barboza – Record: 20-7-0 / Ranked: 7th
Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder – Record: 16-4-0 / Ranked: 10th
The card’s co-main event is a lightweight rematch between two of the most ‘game’ stand-up fighters in the division, if not the entire UFC.
I’m not going to go over the top with this fight, as I see it playing out very similarly to their first, which claimed Fight of the Night honors. It took place way back in August of 2015, and Barboza claimed the pretty comfortable decision. Of course both fighters have improved and adapted since then, but stylistically they’re still very much the same.
Felder is still as hungry as ever, and never wilts to whatever adversity he has to face in fights. Even in his late notice bout against Mike Perry, he broke his forearm, and still proceeded to throw strikes with his compromised limb. Then when he last fought against James Vick, he suffered a collapsed lung, yet still claimed the decision victory. He’s one of the toughest guys in the sport, but unfortunately that doesn’t always result in wins.
Barboza mostly suffers when he’s facing strikers who can apply crazy levels of pressure to get him back pedalling. Felder’s an intelligent fighter and probably knows this, but that’s not to say he’ll be able to actually put it into action against someone as clinical as Barboza.
I’ve got Barboza winning over the distance. He’ll be able to slow down Felder with a barrage of kicks, largely to the legs and mid-section. He’ll then sporadically litter “The Irish Dragon” with some hand strikes as he catches him either blocking or recoiling. The volume of both fighters should be pretty low, as it was in their first fight, but I see Barboza getting the better of their exchanges.
The price on Edson to win a decision isn’t quite where I’d like it to be anymore at +180, and with his elite striking and Paul Felder’s tendency to get injured, it makes it a more desirable play to take him straight-up on the moneyline.
1.5u – Edson Barboza @ -154
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier
Main Event: UFC Lightweight Championship Bout – 155lbs
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov - Record: 27-0-0 / UFC Lightweight Champion
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier - Record: 25-5-0 / UFC Lightweight Interim Champion
Khabib’s back, and he’s looking to send Dustin Poirier back to the states without his interim championship.
We all know what “The Eagle” brings when he fights by now, the question here is, can Dustin Poirier stop him?
For me the answer is probably not. He’s got good takedown defense, but it’s not good enough to stuff Khabib’s calibre of takedowns. “The Diamond” does have the edge in striking, although with Khabib’s takedown threat, it can put even the most competent of strikers on edge (due to the fear of being taken to the mat).
Poirier’s arguably Khabib’s biggest threat in recent memory, although it’s still not enough to overcome the Russian’s grappling advantage. I see Dustin surviving all 25 minutes, and losing a wide decision. Poirier hasn’t been subbed since 2012 and I see him doing well to keep Khabib’s ground position advancements to a minimum. This one looks set to go all five, with Khabib getting his hand raised.
1.25u – Khabib Nurmagomedov via Decision @ +200
If Poirier were to win here, his main path to victory is via an early KO stoppage. He does throw hard, and in the opening couple of minutes, strikes can often catch even the most durable of fighters before they’ve properly ‘got set’. I like taking a tiny hedge here on Dustin round 1 as it yields a little value and nicely counterbalances our Khabib via decision play.
0.25u – Dustin Poirier to Win in Round 1 @ +1200