UFC 242: Nurmagomedov Big Favorite Over Poirier in Return
The top two UFC lightweights in the world are set to square off for divisional supremacy this fall in an epic clash that’s sure to be one of the biggest UFC fights of the year.
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will make the second defense of his 155-pound crown against interim titleholder Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 242. The showdown is expected to take place in Abu Dhabi on September 7 at a venue still to be determined.
Nurmagomedov opened as the early favorite in the fight at places such as 888Sport. Nurmagomedov is the -335 favorite while Poirer followed as the +240 underdog in just released UFC betting odds.
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Star Still Rising
Nurmagomedov, 30, from Russia, is 27-0 in MMA and 11-0 in the UFC including his title-capturing win against Al Iaquinta in April 2018 and his fourth-round submission of Conor McGregor six months later.
Undefeated, dominant and one of the fastest-rising stars in the sport, Nurmagomedov reportedly signed a new deal with the UFC that made him the highest-paid athlete in the company despite coming off a suspension for his actions following his last fight.
After defeating McGregor at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov leaped out of the octagon to confront one of McGregor’s coaches. A massive melee ensued and both fighters were suspended, Nurmagomedov for nine months and McGregor for six.
But Nurmagomedov’s dominant win over probably the most popular UFC superstar in the world solidified his standing among the very best fighters in the world today. Now, Nurmagomedov hopes to continue the momentum he’s built against Poirer, in a matchup that’s certain to produce fireworks.
Dustin Poirier Has Life-Changing Opportunity
Poirier, 25-5, became the interim lightweight titleholder when he scored a split-decision victory over current featherweight champ Max Holloway in a Fight of the Year candidate. Holloway was the slight favorite in the fight despite having to move up to 155 pounds for the bout at UFC 236 on April 13 in Atlanta.
The rugged 30-year-old UFC veteran Poirer, who had previously never won a title, overcame the odds to defeat Holloway to finally become a world champion.
Since moving up to 155 pounds, Poirer has enjoyed the best parts of his career. He’s 9-1 at lightweight with one no contest including three outstanding wins against Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez.
Poirer’s only loss at the weight was a knockout loss to Michael Johnson in September 2016. Since that fight, he’s won five straight against mostly top-notch competition to earn the huge opportunity against Nurmagomedov.
Defeating Holloway is one thing. In hindsight, Poirer had the benefit of having already beaten the reigning featherweight champion at 145 pounds at UFC 143 in February 2012 and had the added luxury of being fully acclimated to fighting heavier men.
But staring down the barrel of perhaps MMA’s most dangerous opponent and pulling off a much bigger upset would be quite another.
An upset for Poirer over Nurmagomedov would vault the American’s career into the stratosphere and also upset the bigger fights UFC executives surely have planned down the line for Nurmagomedov which includes a megafight rematch against McGregor.