On Saturday, September 7th, the UFC will be live from Yas Island’s The Arena, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for UFC 242: Nurmagomedov vs Poirier. This exciting PPV features a main event title fight as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his UFC lightweight championship belt against Dustin Poirier who holds the interim lightweight title.
The co-main event of the night is the second of four lightweight battles on the main card, as Edson Barboza and Paul Felder square off for the second time in the last four years. Each man is desperately looking for a statement win and to move up in the rankings.
The only non-lightweight fight on the main card is a heavyweight showdown between Curtis Blaydes and Shamil Abdurakhimov. There are 13 fights scheduled for this event. Due to the time difference, the prelims will begin at 10:15 AM ET and the main card starts a 2 PM ET.
UFC betting sites have released odds on the full slate of fights. Let’s examine these MMA betting lines, identify any potential betting value or UFC 242 upsets, and KO our picks.
The first portion of preliminary fights begins at 10:15 AM ET and will air on ESPN+. All UFC 242 betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline.
Fares Ziam is making his UFC debut this weekend after winning five straight fights on the regional circuit. Nicknamed “Smile Killer,” the French fighter has stopped nine opponents including four out of his last five. He has defeated notable fighters like Belhadj and Lloveras.
Madge has one UFC fight under his belt and that came nearly 11 months ago. He won that fight via KO in the second round and is on a five-fight win streak. He’s a former two-time EFC lightweight champion and has scored stoppage wins in all eight of his pro victories.
Both fighters have the ability to stand and strike or grapple and submit an opponent. With that said, I expect this fight to stay upright due to Madge’s advantage in this area. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a first round TKO in this fight due to a willingness by both men to stand and strike.
I like what I saw from Madge in his UFC debut last year, and I believe he has the edge in power, which should make a difference during the striking exchanges. He also has the grappling prowess to defend himself on the mat and force a standup if he decides to.
Here’s a fight where online betting sites had a hard time determining which fighter was the favorite. I’ve seen odds anywhere from this to -110 for each fighter. These current UFC 242 odds mean that each fighter offers betting value no matter who you pick.
Akhmedov is the slight betting favorite after returning to the octagon in March and defeated Boetsch via unanimous decision. It was his first fight since December 2017 as Omari missed all of 2018 due to an injury. He’s 6-3-1 in his UFC tenure and has 12 stoppage wins out of 18 pro victories.
Cummings is a veteran of the fight game and has been with the UFC since August 2013. Since then, he’s gone 8-3 inside the octagon and has won two straight fights. Cummings last fought in May and defeated Giles via submission. 12 of his 23 wins have come via submission
Both men have competed in the welterweight division before moving up to the middleweight division. Each fighter has shown some success in a move up in weight. With that said, I believe stamina will be the key to victory here.
Akhmedov has a tendency to get out to a big lead then slowly crawl to the finish line. Six of his 18 pro wins have come via decision. His last four fights have all gone the distance. Unfortunately, I believe he’s running into a tough matchup at UFC 242.
Cummings has the striking skills to test Akhmedov’s chin and the grappling skills to successfully defend himself on the mat or find a submission hold. Additionally, Cummings has stopped 17 opponents which means he’s a finisher. I expect him to not allow Omari to make it to the scorecards.
I’m taking Cummings to win this fight inside the distance. He will pour the pressure on late in the fight to ensure that Akhmedov doesn’t squeak out a win via the judges.
Like with the fight above, this one also has close betting odds. Salikhov comes in as the underdog, but has a wicked background in Wushu and a dangerous striking arsenal. This will be his third fight in the UFC as he’s gone 1-1 so far. Muslim hasn’t fought in over 16 ½ months due to testing issues.
11 of Salikhov’s 14 pro wins have come via KO/TKO. His 11-fight win streak earned him a shot in the UFC. Muslim has only ever gone the distance in one fight. Both of his losses have come via submission.
Taleb has been with the UFC for over five years and has an overall record of 7-4 inside the octagon. However, he has dropped two of his last three fights and is 3-3 in his last six bouts. For Taleb, he’s either going to find the TKO or grind an opponent for a full three rounds.
Of his 15 pro victories, seven have come via TKO/KO and eight by decision. Taleb can stand and strike or he can grind and grapple. For this fight, the latter will be his best chance at victory. He doesn’t want to strike with someone as dangerous as Salikhov.
It’s been a while since we’ve last seen Salikhov. So, there’s a chance that he’s improved on some of his inefficiencies like takedown defense and dealing with an opponent who has the reach advantage. For this fight, Taleb has at least four inches in reach and two inches in height on his opponent.
With that said, I believe Taleb’s best days are behind him. At 38 years old, he’s already reached his ceiling. I’m not quite sure we’ve seen Salikhov reach his full potential in the UFC. This should be the fight where Muslim reminds us all about his dangerous striking.
I’m going with Muslim “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov to win this fight via TKO. I believe the layoff has helped him to grow as a fighter. And he’s taking on an opponent that won’t be afraid to exchange strikes.
Sato is a sizable underdog in this fight and rightfully so. However, he’s a classic example of a “puncher’s chance.” 10 of his 15 pro wins have come via KO/TKO including his last two contests. Sato made his UFC debut in April and defeated Ben Saunders via TKO in the second round.
Muhammad has been with the UFC for roughly 38 months and has an overall record of 6-3 inside the octagon. He won five of his last six fights including a solid win over Millender in April. 11 of his 15 wins have come via decision, but don’t let that fool you.
Belal will have the advantage in technical striking as he’s a smooth puncher. He will also be able to avoid Sato’s power shots. But the biggest advantage for Muhammad is wrestling. Belal is a superior wrestler compared to Sato.
One thing that Muhammad has shown us throughout his career is that he’s a patient fighter. I believe he will dictate the pace of this fight and where it goes whether it stays upright or to the mat. Either way, he has more paths to victory. Sato is fun to watch, but he will be a fish out of water on the mat.
The second batch of preliminary fights will begin at 12 PM ET and air on FX.
Ottman, brother of Abu, is an undefeated fighter out of Germany and looking to keep that perfect record going. He’s a sizable betting favorite for this fight as he makes his UFC debut. However, he will be giving up four inches to his opponent this weekend.
10 of Azaitar’s 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven of those fights by way of KO/TKO. He hasn’t fought in a year, but that shouldn’t be an issue since his opponent hasn’t fought in 29 months. Ottman is giving up four inches in height to Packalen, but will that make a difference?
Teemu Packalen has already fought three times in the UFC and has a 1-2 record overall. His long layoff may hurt him inside the octagon this weekend as he goes up against a tough opponent. All eight of Packalen’s pro wins have come via stoppage with six of those fights by way of submission.
This bout will come down to Packalen’s submission game versus Azaitar’s striking and takedown defense. I believe Ottman is the better overall fighter as he’s also stronger and significantly better in the standup department. I see Azaitar scoring a TKO in this fight with his pressure and volume of strikes.
Sarah Moras is the octagon veteran between the two women, but she’s the underdog due to a three-fight losing streak and dropping four of her last five overall bouts. Moras has a 2-4 record with the UFC and is looking for a bounce back win to get on track once again.
Four of Moras’ five wins have come via stoppage as she’s shown a balance of stand up and grappling. Unfortunately, her inability to defeat fighters on the same level or a notch above her has been apparent in this losing streak. Moras is most likely facing the axe if she loses again.
Liana Jojua will be making her UFC debut this weekend after winning five straight fights to earn a shot inside the octagon. Jojua has a strong submission and ground game as she’s scored five wins by tap out. It should be noted that Jojua hasn’t fought in 18 months.
I have a hard time picking Jojua as she’s giving up three inches in height, hasn’t fought opponents as credible as Moras has, and she’s coming off an 18-month layoff. Moras is desperate for a win to keep her UFC career going.
I’m taking Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras in an upset. I believe she’s worked hard on improving some of her weaknesses, has the ground game to succeed against Jojua, and her overall tenacity should be the difference in this fight.
Murphy comes into this fight as the second biggest underdog on the card. Although he’s still undefeated in his pro career, Murphy is making his UFC debut and hasn’t fought in over nine months. Nevertheless, his striking skills should give him a shot in this fight.
Tukhugov is a large betting favorite, which is surprising considering he hasn’t fought in nearly 40 months. His last bout was a split decision loss to Renato Carneiro in May 2016. For his career, Tukhugov is 3-1 inside the octagon. 11 of his 18 pro wins have come via decision.
This fight is hard to predict and I think that oddsmakers might have overvalued Tukhugov some. A 40-month absence shouldn’t warrant odds this high. With that said, I do give Murphy a shot at winning this bout. I’m putting Tukhugov on upset alert.
For this bet, the safe play is on Zubaira Tukhugov, but Murphy is a risky flier that could pay off big if his opponent is rusty after the long layoff.
The UFC veteran Joanne Calderwood is taking on the rising star in Andrea “KGB” Lee. Calderwood is a sizable underdog for this fight and is coming off a loss three months ago to Chookagian via unanimous decision.
That loss was the third defeat in her last five fights. Overall, Joanne has a 5-4 record with the UFC. Seven of her 13 pro wins have come via decision. Calderwood packs a punch and loves to stand and strike with her opponents. She has five wins via KO/TKO.
Lee is on a seven-fight win streak, including going 3-0 inside the octagon. She’s already fought twice this year and won both via decision, including defeating Montana De La Rosa in June. All three of her UFC wins have been by decision, but she does have six stoppage victories in her career as well.
This fight figures to be a striking contest as neither woman will look to take it to the mat. With that said, Lee is trending upward and has at least four inches in reach advantage over Calderwood. I believe Lee continues her winning streak and adds another solid name to her resume.
Take Andrea “KGB” Lee to win via decision. Combined, these women have gone to the judges in 15 out of 30 professional fights.
The main card for UFC 242 features five fights and is set to begin at 2 PM ET on PPV.
Ferreira is a sizable underdog in this fight despite being a tough out for anyone. He’s won four straight fights since his loss to Poirier 4 ½ years ago. Ferreira has a solid blend of jiu-jitsu and striking skills. If he gets in top control, this fight will be over.
Ferreira is capable of scoring a TKO or a submission depending on where the fight ends up. Furthermore, he has enough of a striking arsenal to do a lot of damage with his hands or feet. Nine of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Taisumov has only fought once a year since 2015, which is a shame considering how fun he is to watch. From visa issues to a failed drug test due to tainted supplements, Taisumov has had a tough time stringing together consecutive fights. With that said, he hasn’t lost a fight in 5 ½ years.
Taisumov is 8-1 inside the octagon and is riding a six-fight win streak. Five of those six wins have come via TKO/KO. For his career, 24 of his 27 pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 of those fights by way of TKO/KO.
Taisumov will be the stronger and more powerful fighter. He will also have the advantage in striking. Ferreira should have the advantage on the ground especially in top control. The winner of this fight will come from whoever does the best job of dictating the pace and where the fight goes.
I enjoy watching both fighters as they are fearless. Unfortunately, we have to pick a winner here. With that said, the safe play is on Taisumov. However, Ferreira is worthy of a flier due to the matchup. One way or another, this fight will end via stoppage. I just don’t see it going the distance.
Blaydes comes into this fight as the largest betting favorite on the night. He’s easily one of the top heavyweights in the division and largely due to his blend of striking, wrestling and cardio. Those three attributes make him a difficult opponent for anyone other than Ngannou.
Blaydes’ only two professional losses have come to Francis Ngannou who is a deadly and powerful striker, which is the primary way to defeat Blaydes. Although Curtis is a top-notch striker, nobody can withstand the power shots of Ngannou. Eight of his 11 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Abdurakhimov is a solid heavyweight whose last loss came 10 months ago to Ngannou via TKO. But don’t let these betting odds fool you. Abdurakhimov is tough as nails and has the power to win this fight.
Unfortunately, Abdurakhimov doesn’t have the stamina, endurance, and wrestling skills to match Blaydes. Curtis should be able to smother Shamil either standing up or on the mat. I can see this fight lasting longer as both men feel each other out. However, the longer it goes, the more it favors Blaydes.
I believe that Abdurakhimov will put up a strong performance and take this into at least the middle of round two before he starts to get tired. With that said, I expect Blaydes to push a pace that will capitalize on his opponent’s fatigue and either pick up the TKO or decision win.
Abdurakhimov is just outside of being worthy of a flier, but should still make this an entertaining fight. Blaydes offers not betting value at all.
Ramos comes into this bout having won his last four fights. Those victories included a win over Austin Hubbard in May. Ramos has a respectable ground game, defends well in close quarters, and has some power in his striking. I believe that the sports betting sites have overvalued his opponent in this fight.
Islam Makhachev has a successful background in sambo with multiple world titles. He’s a friend and training partner of Nurmagomedov and was in Khabib’s corner for the McGregor fight. He’s riding a five-fight win streak and has only one loss on his resume, which was four years ago.
10 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage. Three of his last five fights have gone the distance and I believe this one will, too. Makhachev’s best chance at winning is getting this fight to the mat where he can smother Ramos and grind out a win ala Khabib.
With that said, Ramos is the better striker between the two and has enough of a ground game where he can hang in this fight. Seven of his 10 wins have come via submission. With that said, I believe we have an upset brewing here.
If Ramos can keep this fight at a distance, then he will outstrike his opponent and win on points. If he can effectively counter strike, then he could potentially find a TKO. Ramos’ success in defending takedowns and dirty boxing will be the keys to victory. And I believe he will get it.
I’m taking Davi Ramos in an upset over Islam Makhachev in what should be an entertaining physical encounter at UFC 242 this weekend.
The UFC 242 co-main event of the night is a lightweight rematch and a candidate for fight of the night honors as Paul Felder takes on Edson Barboza. For the record, their first fight earned fight of the night honors.
Edson Barboza is the betting favorite despite coming off a loss to Justin Gaethje in March. He lost three of his last four fights, which have all been against top fighters in the division. Barboza is a dangerous striker with his hands and feet. 12 of his 20 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
As for this rematch, Barboza had the following comments about the outcome:
“I watched his last fight, he looks better than our first fight. We are both better. It is an MMA fight. I always train everything, but my kicks and striking are a huge part of my game. But, wherever this fight goes, I’m ready. I’m going to win, that is it. However it comes I will take it that is my goal and vision. I am going to Abu Dhabi to win that is it. That simple.”
Felder is coming off a victory over James Vick this past February. It was the fourth win in his last five fights. His lone loss during that stretch was a split decision defeat to Mike Perry. Some pundits believe that Felder won that fight.
10 of Felder’s 16 pro wins have come via KO/TKO. He has the power to knockout his opponents and his clinch game is scary. However, there have been times where Felder forgets his strengths and gets caught up in his opponent’s strengths. That’s exactly what happened in their first fight.
Barboza defeated Felder by unanimous decision back in July 2015. Felder got caught up in a mid-range striking fight which heavily favors Barboza and his kicking. That loss has been on Felder’s mind for the last four years. He told MMA Junkie that he wants to get revenge and even the series:
“I just want to get this one back so bad. Four years ago I lost to Edson, and I was young. I was green, and it was only my third UFC fight. I just want to show what I’m made of. It’s been on my mind for four years.”
The question now is whether or not Felder can get his revenge by winning this fight. I believe he can. Felder needs to put the pressure on Barboza and smother him. Go for takedowns or crush him in his clinch. Either way, pressure is the key to stopping Barboza’s mid-range arsenal.
I’m taking Felder to win this fight in an upset at UFC 242. Maybe we will get a trilogy fight between the two sometime down the road.
The main event of the night pits the undefeated Nurmagomedov versus the hard-hitting Dustin Poirier. It will also unify the UFC lightweight title with the division’s interim title that Dustin holds. Nurmagomedov continues to see his odds increase as we get closer to fight night. He’s gone from -333 up to -410. If you’re looking to wager on Nurmagomedov, here are the best betting sites.
Nurmagomedov is an impressive champion with a grinding, smothering skillset that often takes the wind out of his opponents and the fans. Khabib wins his fights in an ugly manner by taking his foes down to the mad, smother them, and either grind out a decision win or find a stoppage.
In his last fight against McGregor, Khabib got Conor to the mat and smothered him until he found a submission. Prior to that, Nurmagomedov smothered Al Iaquinta for the full five rounds until he won via decision. 17 of his 27 pro wins have come via stoppage and the other 10 have come via decision.
It’s been 11 months since he last fought, but I don’t expect any rust or fatigue from Nurmagomedov. In fact, he will try to implement his typical “tire and tap” strategy that he’s effectively used his entire career:
“Dustin Poirier’s a very tough opponent. I don’t want to underestimate him. He has a lot of experience. But when I go to the cage, my plan is make him tired, make him tap. This is my plan.”
Unlike his last fight against Conor McGregor, Nurmagomedov respects Poirier and the feeling is mutual. With that said, Poirier told MMA Junkie he believes he will make history by defeating Nurmagomedov:
“I just can’t be broken. I will not be broken. I’m here to make history. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Saturday night I’m going out there to do something that’s never been done, and I’m honoring it and respecting it.”
For Poirier to accomplish this historic win, he will need to strike from a distance and defend the takedown. Both of those are easier said than done. McGregor knew that going into his fight against Khabib, but couldn’t accomplish it. However, I do believe Poirier is better at defending takedowns than Conor.
Another area where Poirier could use to his advantage is endurance and stamina. Nurmagomedov slowed down in his last three fights and that could literally play into Poirier’s hands. Dustin could unload some furious combos that may floor a fatigued Khabib.
Ultimately, I believe Poirier has a great chance at winning at UFC 242. He’s worthy of a flier. For those of you wanting to play it safe, take Nurmagomedov. For those wanting a high risk, high reward wager, then take Poirier. For me, I want Poirier to win, but I believe Nurmagomedov will grind out the win.
I don’t see Khabib losing until he faces Tony Ferguson, the boogeyman of MMA.
At first glance, this card might not be as impressive as UFC 241. However, once you dig into the fights, you will notice a trend of intriguing matchups. I believe that oddsmakers missed the boat on a few of these fights. There’s plenty of potential for several betting upsets on Saturday even in the main event.
Make sure those of you on the West Coast, like myself, get up early Saturday morning to watch this PPV. It’s going to be historic in more ways than one!
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