Khabib Nurmagomedov is the strong favourite against Dustin Poirier as the Russian steps into the Octagon for the first time since his leap out of it after beating Conor McGregor at UFC 229 earned him a nine-month suspension and $500,000 fine.
Undefeated and looking to become undisputed once again, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov is looking to make up for lost time this weekend. The Russian puts his 27-0 record on the line against Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier at Yas Island’s sparkling new arena at UFC 242, who upset the odds to send Max Holloway back down to featherweight with his tail between his legs following a unanimous decision victory for the interim lightweight strap at UFC 236.
Fight to finish inside the distance
Poirier’s performance in that bout five months ago was superb, and took the American to five straight wins, discounting his no contest against Eddie Alvarez in May 2017. His power punches were the difference against Holloway, epitomising the way Diamond has forced his way up the rankings with a brutish aggression that almost belies his well-rounded style. The problem for the interim champ though, is that he has to come up with an answer to a riddle no other mixed martial artist has ever managed to solve before.
Poirier to win by KO or TKO
They don’t get much more well-rounded than Khabib, who boasts eight wins by knockout, nine by submission and 10 by decision. The Eagle is an almost unrivalled wrestler and that could be a huge factor against Poirier. However, as Nurmagomedov showed against Conor McGregor, he has dramatically improved his striking, beating the Notorious at his own stand-up game before finishing the fight with a neck crank. Even with those improvements though, Poirier still brings a more potent set of striking skills into this bout, but Khabib is a real force to be reckoned with.
Khabib to win by KO, TKO or submission
If the fight goes to the ground – which it surely will at some point – Khabib’s top pressure and wrestling skills could see this fight come to a very swift conclusion. Poirier is a solid wrestler and has decent takedown defence, but there are few UFC fighters that compare to Khabib. With that said, Poirier has still submitted seven opponents, showing he can force the man in the opposite corner into positions they don’t want to be. The American has great footwork to match his boxing skills, and he’ll need all of that to stop Khabib cutting off the Octagon and bending him to his will.
Khabib to win by submission
Khabib Nurmagomedov to win the fight
Dustin Poirier is an accomplished, talented fighter, who’s going to be in the lightweight mix for years to come – and in this fight. However, Khabib Nurmagomedov is an absolute animal. The Russian is as strong as a bear, and even used to wrestle one as part of his training as a nine-year-old destined for the top. The Eagle is soaring towards greatness and is #2 in the pound-for-pound rankings for a good reason. Known for talking to his opponents while he’s burying them in unrelenting top pressure, Khabib has so many ways he can win this fight. One punch may be all Poirier needs to blow the lightweight division to pieces, but Khabib is the heavy favourite with the best betting sites to maintain his unbeaten record and become the undisputed champion in the process.
John Abrams is a passionate sports fanatic who follows NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB and Formula 1. A former sports trader, John has an unquestioned thirst for sports knowledge and often fills his time playing fantasy or placing wagers online.
All Predictions by John Abrams