At UFC 242 this Saturday, September 7, in Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon.
The lightweight champion is set to face current interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in a matchup that is among the most highly-anticipated fights of 2019.
As always, we at WagerBop have prepared all of the best odds that you can find online right here in this article. You’ll also find our in-depth study of the main event so that you can make the right betting decisions this weekend for UFC 242.
UFC 242 Fight Card and Odds
Main Card (PPV, 2 p.m. ET)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (-425) vs. Dustin Poirier (+368)
- Edson Barboza (-153) vs. Paul Felder (+135)
- Islam Makhachev (-335) vs. Davi Ramos (+276)
- Curtis Blaydes (-467) vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (+366)
- Mairbek Taisumov (-266) vs. Diego Ferreira (+225)
Prelims (12:00 p.m. ET)
- Joanne Calderwood (+185) vs. Andrea Lee (-214)
- Zubaira Tukhugov (-406) vs. Lerone Murphy (+325)
- Liana Jojua (-147) vs. Sarah Moras (+130)
- Ottman Azaitar (-227) vs. Teemu Packalen (+195)
Early Prelims (10:15 a.m. ET)
- Belal Muhammad (-348) vs. Takashi Sato (+285)
- Nordine Taleb (-116) vs. Muslim Salikhov (+103)
- Omari Akhmedov (-115) vs. Zak Cummings (+102)
- Don Madge (-165) vs. Fares Ziam (+145)
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fame skyrocketed following the intense buildup and rivalry with Conor McGregor last year. Nurmagomedov was already regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport, but the fourth-round submission victory against the most popular mixed martial artist in the world helped even the most casual of fans become aware of Nurmagomedov’s existence.
Throughout his 27-fight career, Nurmagomedov has rarely been troubled. He’s undefeated after 11 years of professional competition and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. It’s going to take a freakish performance to stop the man who has mauled so many fighters in the UFC already.
Dustin Poirier could be the perfect candidate to put an end to Nurmagomedov’s run. A true veteran of the UFC, Poirier is now peaking after seven years of fighting for the world’s leading promotion.
Now on an official five-fight winning streak, Poirier has collected win after win against some of the toughest competitors at 155-pounds. Those five wins over Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis and Jim Miller are more than enough for his body of work to be considered as greater than Nurmagomedov’s.
Here’s how the bookmakers have this fight:
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier Odds
During Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last fight with Conor McGregor, commentator and UFC bantamweight Dominick Cruz labeled Nurmagomedov’s gameplan and grappling as “one-dimensional.”
In many ways, it is.
Khabib’s strategy is all about getting his opponent to the mat, trapping their legs and arms and then mauling them. It’s on the ground where Nurmagomedov appears unstoppable.
The key tactic of Nurmagomedov’s to begin the takedown process is to apply enough pressure that the opposing fighter steps near the cage. Once the opponent is behind the black tape and near the cage, Nurmagomedov engages and traps them there. He works into a clinch position and latches onto his opponent. Although his takedowns aren’t always successful, he’s extremely dangerous given the fact that he can chain unsuccessful attempts into a takedown that eventually becomes successful.
This was best on display against McGregor in round one. Nurmagomedov wasn’t able to apply pressure when McGregor controlled the cage early, so he opted to dive from a long distance for McGregor’s ankles. The success rate was always going to be low, and McGregor defended the takedown well by maintaining his balance and pushing down on the head. Yet, when McGregor returned to his feet, Nurmagomedov was still holding onto that one leg of McGregor and was ready to commence another takedown attempt.
Nurmagomedov’s resilience and commitment to takedowns can be unbelievably crucial in these key moments. Not to mention, once the Russian does succeed with the takedown, he’s often able to keep the opponent down for as long as the round lasts.
So, where does Dustin Poirier fit into all of this?
If Poirier wants any chance of winning, he’s going to need to keep his distance and avoid being taken down by Nurmagomedov. While it’s not exactly that simple, that’s the beginning of a successful gameplan for Poirier at UFC 242.
He can boost his chances of success by applying a similar kind of pressure that McGregor did in rounds one and three at UFC 229. By making sure that Nurmagomedov is the fighter closer to the cage, the champion is unable to use the cage during his takedown attempts and therefore needs to commit to takedowns that have a significantly lower level of success.
Fortunately for Poirier, his coach Mike Brown has expressed awareness of this advantage during a recent episode of UFC Embedded. Now it’s just up to Poirier to put that into action.
But that’s not all. Poirier’s going to need to win the striking exchanges – and that’s not an easy task against Nurmagomedov. Unlike some of Poirier’s recent opponents such as Holloway and Gaethje, Nurmagomedov’s striking is relatively unconventional. His jab comes from down near the hip and he has a surprisingly fast and powerful right hand that he has landed against talented strikers in the past.
Poirier will be required to use his speed advantage to pick Nurmagomedov apart with fast combinations of punches to the head and the body before quickly retreating out of range. A mistake for Poirier would be to overcommit to any strike or series of strikes as this leaves him in range of a potential Nurmagomedov takedown.
At the current odds of +368 at Pinnacle, Poirier represents remarkable value. He has the striking speed and power to cause Nurmagomedov some troubles on the feet while also possessing defensive wrestling awareness. If wishing to bet on the head-to-head matchup alone, we do recommend siding with Poirier now that he odds have shifted significantly in recent weeks.
However, a bet that rates as extremely high-value before UFC 242 is to take Nurmagomedov to win by submission.
Poirier has been known to give up his back rather easily in past fights, especially when trying to scramble out of a bad position. That will be a critical error against Nurmagomedov who is dangerous from back mount but can also use the position to easily control his opponent and fatigue them before eventually submitting them.
In the past, Nurmagomdov has shown a tendency to go for the submission victory rather than by ground and pound (KO/TKO) because there is less risk of giving up control and position to the opposing fighter.
For this reason, our best bet for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier is to take Nurmagomedov to win by submission.
Bet on Nurmagomedov to win by submission: +138 at William Hill