The lightweight title is on the line in Abu Dhabi as UFC 242 graces us with a great card on a Saturday afternoon. Cageside Press’ picks are below.[table “122” not found /]
UFC 242 is headlined by a unifying title fight in the lightweight division as champion Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on interim champ Dustin Poirier. Khabib is famously undefeated at 27-0 including his most notable victory over Conor McGregor. Poirier has been on a tear, winning nine of his last 10 fights with wins over Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje in his last three. Eight of 12 writers believe Khabib will retain his title.
The co-main event is a banger of a rematch four years in the making between Paul Felder and Edson Barboza. Felder has won his last four bouts at lightweight, earning bonuses in two of them. Barboza has lost three of his last four, but looked brilliant in the one win against Dan Hooker. Just four writers picked Barboza to defeat Felder again.
Grappling fans rejoice! Islam Makhachev takes on BJJ ace Davi Ramos on the main card. Makhachev, a training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, is 6-1 in the UFC and looks like something special. Ramos is an ADCC grappling champion and is 4-1 in the Octagon with the lone loss being his debut against one of the best grapplers around in Sergio Moraes. Makhachev was unanimously picked.
Rising heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Shamil Abdurakhimov square off. Blaydes has been dominant in his seven UFC victories (one overturned due to marijuana) and has only been defeated by Francis Ngannou, twice. Abdurakhimov is quietly climbing up the ladder, winning five of his last six, and two of his last three by knockout. Blaydes was unanimously picked.
Mairbek Taisumov finally returns to the cage against Carlos Diego Ferreira. Taisumov has only fought once per year for the last three years, but has knocked out five of his last six opponents. Ferreira is on a three-fight win streak, but has been suffering from weight issues lately. All but one writer picked Taisumov.