UFC betting tips: Khabib v Poirier at UFC 242
Jack Green gives his UFC tips for Saturday night's lightweight title unification bout in Abu Dhabi, plus the co-main event.
KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV V DUSTIN POIRIER
Saturday night’s lightweight title unification bout should follow the usual formula of a Khabib fight.
The Dagestani champion has been a force since turning pro in 2008, mauling every opponent he’s faced on the way to a 27-0 record – plus Dillon Danis, who he infamously attacked outside of the Octagon after beating Conor McGregor last October.
During that time, nobody has even come close to dealing with Khabib on the ground. The former sambo star is a master of pinning his opponents to the mat and pounding his way to a TKO or submission win.
That’s exactly what he did to McGregor at UFC 229, when he utterly dominated a fighter who had once seemed unstoppable, pummelling the Irishman on the ground and working him into a position where he was forced to tap.
But, while Khabib did score a knockdown in that fight, he was outboxed when the pair stood and exchanged, which should give Poirier some encouragement for Saturday night.
The American claimed the interim belt when he beat Max Holloway on points in April, and he’s now won five of his last six fights, with the only exception a no-contest against Eddie Alvarez in May 2017.
Poirier has developed into one of the best boxers in the UFC, and should have a clear advantage on the feet against Khabib.
In fact, he throws punches at such a high volume and with such power that he could deter the Dagestani from stooping in for takedowns as often as he usually does.
This fight will eventually go to ground, though, and for that reason it’s hard to look past Nurmagomedov.
Once Khabib has his opponent on their back it’s almost impossible to get back up, and he should be able to do enough to win the majority of the rounds against Poirier.
But the interim champion is a gritty fighter who won’t give up easily, and he should be able to grind his way to the final klaxon.
Khabib to win on points
EDSON BARBOZA V PAUL FELDER
The co-main event is a rematch of a great 2015 fight that Barboza won by decision.
The Brazilian is in dire need of a win this time around after being knocked out by Justin Gaethje in March – his third defeat in four fights.
He is still a fantastic technical fighter at the age of 33 and has an unmatched arsenal of kicks, but opponents have taken advantage of his struggles fighting on the back foot in recent years.
The plan for Felder will be simple: pressure relentlessly and wear Barboza down.
The Irish Dragon is a better fighter now than he was back in 2015, and a split-decision defeat to Mike Perry in July is his only defeat in his last five fights.
Unlike Gaethje, Kevin Lee and Khabib, though, Felder doesn’t have the power or wrestling ability to cause Barboza too much trouble, and a few early leg and body kicks could deter the American from pushing quite so hard.
Expect the Brazilian to pick Felder apart and secure an important win on points.
Barboza to win by decision
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