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Khabib to dominate 'Diamond'? Get Nurmagomedov v Poirier UFC 242 tips

Leigh Copson 6 Sep 2019
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Khabib Nurmagomedov (credit:Jason Silva/Zuma Press/PA Images)

An undisputed lightweight champion will be crowned at UFC 242 on September 7, but will Khabib Nurmagomedov cement his status as the number one 155lber on the planet or can Dustin Poirier become the first man to beat the Russian and leave Abu Dhabi as the unquestionable king of the lightweight division? Read on for our betting tips & guide to the UFC lightweight title fight at UFC 242.

Khabib Nurmagomedov left no doubts as to who the number one lightweight fighter on the planet is with his four-round dismantling of Conor McGregor just under 12 months ago. McGregor had made UFC history by when he became the first fighter to hold titles in two different weight classes at the same time, but he failed to defend either of those belts and crossed over into the world of boxing to take on unbeaten legend Floyd Mayweather Jr in a bout that generated plenty of press lines and money but not much in the way of competitive action. During his absence Khabib had been racking up dominant victory after dominant victory and that meant when the Irishman finally ended his near two-year exile from the Octagon, the Russian was the man to greet him at the door as the lightweight champion. Would McGregor’s outstanding striking skills finally show the flaw in the champion’s game, or would Khabib do to the Irishman what he had done to all of his previous opponents – dominate and dismantle them? The answer to the question was emphatic. He dropped McGregor with a punch, something nobody was predicting pre-fight, and took him down several times before finally locking in a neck crank that gave the former two-weight champion, now battered, bloodied and bruised, no choice but to tap out for the second time in his UFC career. Khabib’s post-match antics somewhat overshadowed his performance on the night, and also earned him a ban, but there could be no doubts that there was no better 155lb on the planet than him and immediately the question was asked – who’s next?

The answer to that question is Dustin Poirier. Poirier may not be a major star in the UFC, but he has been fighting under the banner for over eight years now and he has never been better than he is right now. Poirier’s career never really took off in the featherweight division so, in the wake of a September 2014 loss to McGregor, he made the move up to lightweight and It proved to be a jump that kick-started his career. It has not been all plain-sailing – he was stopped by Michael Johnson three years ago – but he has gone 9-1, with one No Contest, and his recent four-fight win streak has been very impressive with some top level fighters being dispatched. TKO successes against Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and former champion Eddie Alvarez earned him a bout with Max Holloway for the interim title earlier this year, but many felt like this would be a step too far for ‘Diamond’. Yes, he had beaten Holloway several years ago, but since that night the Hawaiian had grown in leaps and bounds to establish himself as the premier featherweight fighter on the planet by some margin and many felt like the step-up to 155lbs would not be too much for him. Poirier could not be written off though, he too had improved considerably since that first bout, and ‘Diamond’ was not about to let his big chance pass him by. He put on a sensational striking display to beat up Holloway for five rounds and at the end of the night he deservedly had the interim belt strapped round his waist and a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov on the horizon. 

So can Poirier now complete his rise to the top of the lightweight division by beating the seemingly unstoppable Russian, or will Khabib once again leave no doubt as to who the best 155lber on the planet is, perhaps setting up an mega-money rematch with McGregor in 2020?

Khabib Nurmagomedov v Dustin Poirier Tips

Right off the bat I am going to say that Poirier is capable of springing an upset here. His performance against Holloway was simply outstanding and a similar striking clinic here could pose all sorts of problems for Khabib. OK, so he did manage to drop McGregor last time out, but let’s not get carried away. He has not suddenly become some sort of elite level striker overnight. McGregor has claimed he went into the fight injured, but it feels like he is trying to find every excuse in the book for the fact that he was embarrassed and stopped in such emphatic fashion after running his mouth for months on end. In the end it was him who pretty much did ‘nuttin’. He was tentative and looked fearful of the takedown for much of the fight, but when he did become the aggressor in the third round he did enjoy some success with his strikes and those few minutes of success will have been watched by Poirier. The American will be well aware of Khabib’s nasty habit of backing straight up when McGregor did threaten with strikes, and if the Russian adopts a similar response to what Poirier throws at him then the challenger (sorry, interim champion) has the skillset that can punish his opponent.

Cardio certainly will not be an issue for Poirier either – he cut a superb pace for 25 minutes as he picked apart Holloway and you could suggest that his cardio is superior to that of the champion, who has shown dips in the third round of each of his two previous five-round outings. Thankfully for him those dips came against an outmatched Al Iaquinta and another fighter who is, pardon the pun, notorious for gassing after the first couple of rounds, Conor McGregor.

So with all of that in mind you would think that I am going with Poirier here, but I simply cannot bring myself to take on the champion, a man who has amassed a perfect 27-0 record since embarking on his professional MMA career and has lost arguably just one round in those 27 outings, that third round against McGregor. Time and time again he has bullied opponents and broken their spirit and while he has not exactly racked up a string of stoppage wins since arriving in the UFC, he has been utterly dominant. Some would say he is simply unstoppable. I do not buy into that belief – somewhere on this planet there is a man that will be able to put a ‘1’ in his loss column – but at this time Khabib is far too consistent and far too dominant to oppose. He controls fights, dictates where they take place (usually on the mat) and he grinds down his opponent. Poirier will likely have his moments in this one and I believe he will enjoy more success than McGregor did, but he is going to find himself being mauled on the mat for good portions of this fight as Khabib earns a late stoppage or gets the nod from the judges, that latter being the most likely if his UFC record is anything to go by.

Former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson talking to Eyes On The Game: “I see Khabib winning. Poirier’s got some very strong boxing. His forward pressure, I think Khabib is going to be able to slip and throw. I just think Poirier fights off the ropes. I think I’ve said that a couple times. And unless he does that real fast, it’s a bad habit to have, and you get punch drunk from that, and you get dropped. And with Khabib, he gets you on the ground, it’s game over.”

Inside The Octagon: UFC 242 Khabib v Poirier

In this episode John Gooden and Dan Hardy preview the big title unification bout at UFC 242, where the defending UFC lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, battles the Interim champion, Dustin Poirier. Considered one of the greatest grapplers in MMA, Khabib has been dominant amassing an incredible 27-0 record and returns to the octagon in no mood to tarnish his perfect record. In Poirier however, the Russian faces a man whose willingness to go toe to toe with any opponent, has made him one of the most exciting fighters in the octagon. Will the ‘The Diamond’ shine bright, or will the Eagle continue to soar?

Tale Of The Tape

Khabib Nurmagomedov v Dustin Poirier Stats

Khabib NurmagomedovTale Of The TapeDustin Poirier
27-0Record24-5, 1 NC
13:56Average Fight Time8:55
5' 10"Height5' 9"
40"Leg Reach40.5"

What The Fighters Said

Khabib Nurmagomedov: “I am aware that Dustin may be peaking at the right time, and right now I feel that he is the perfect challenge for me. I don’t want to make any mistakes, especially in under-estimating my opponent. I believe that if I want to leave my legacy I have to fight and defeat the best. In Dustin I have a tough opponent. But one must also remember that I am the undefeated and undisputed champion of the world carrying the Dagestan name forward.”

Dustin Poirier: “I don’t want this guy to get on top of me and start pulling away with rounds. We only have five of them. If you let a guy lay on you for three, you need a finish. That’s not what I’m trying to do in there. I’m not worried about his takedowns so much. I need to hurt this guy. I have the opportunity to make history and do something that’s never been done. I’m embracing that. I'm just excited that I put myself in this position and that I have an opportunity to show the world how great I am on the biggest scale possible and unify these belts. Make history – that’s what this is about.”

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Khabib to dominate 'Diamond'? Get Nurmagomedov v Poirier UFC 242 tips

Will Khabib Nurmagomedov cement his status as the number one 155lber on the planet or can Dustin Poirier become the first man to beat the Russian?

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