UFC 242 marks the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi. The event will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier. This card is stacked from top to bottom. We preview some of the fights to watch and give a nod to those that shouldn’t be missed.
As mentioned, UFC 242 will feature a headline bout for the lightweight championship. Undefeated grappling phenom, Nurmagomedov will face a tough test in the determined, Poirier.
Nurmagomedov captured the belt in his unforgettable fight at UFC 229 with Conor McGregor. The aftermath very much shadowed the fight itself, with Nurmagomedov being suspended for his antics post-fight. At 27-0, with 11 wins in the UFC, no one has been able to figure out the Dagestani puzzle. His relentless grappling style leads to him mauling opponents and he has a habit of forcing them into his world. With names such as Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta on his resume, we know Nurmagomedov can hang with the best and come out on top. Having barely lost a round in his career, Nurmagomedov is a scary man to stand across from, but don’t expect Poirier to be phased.
Poirier ruined the lightweight debut of Max Holloway at UFC 236 when he outpointed him to become the interim 155-pound champion. Prior to this, ‘The Diamond’ tore through the lightweight division, defeating some of the best names in his way. Finishing former champions, Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez, as well as finishing Justin Gaethje, it’s impossible to look past Poirier.
Since returning to lightweight in 2015, he has gone 9-1-1, including three performance of the night bonuses and four-fight of the night bonuses. Could he hold the key to defeating Khabib? Tune in to UFC 242 to find out who will become the undisputed best 155-pound fighter in the world.
Lightweight Strikers Clash in a Co-Main rematch
UFC 242’s co-main event features two of the most brutal strikers the lightweight division has to offer. #7 Edson Barboza meets #10 Paul Felder in a rematch from UFC on FOX 16. On this occasion Barboza won 29-28 on all scorecards, handing Felder his first professional loss. Since then, the ever-exciting Barboza has gone 4-4 and Felder has gone 6-3. Across these combined 10 wins, these two men finished six fights.
Barboza has struggled with pressure fighters, which was on show in his mauling from Nurmagomedov, his difficult fight with Kevin Lee and his knockout loss to Gaethje. If Felder can utilise this, it will make for an easier night for him. Felder put that he thinks that the rematch will feature a ‘more polished version of myself’. Felder certainly has the momentum going into the bout, coming off an impressive victory over James Vick in February. Contrary to this, Barboza is coming off a rough knockout loss to Gaethje in March. In what has Fight of the Night written all over it, the winner of this is sure to climb the 155-pound rankings.
Top 10 flyweights meet on the Prelims
The UFC 242 prelims feature a fight between two top 10 female flyweights. #6 Andrea Lee meets #5 Joanne Calderwood in a fight which could have championship consequences.
After an impressive 2-0 start to her career as a flyweight, Calderwood dropped her last fight against Katlyn Chookagian. Calderwood admitted that a focus on a potential title shot took her focus away from her fight with Chookagian. We can expect Calderwood to be fully focussed on the tough challenge she faces in Lee. Following a stint at Tristar, Calderwood now resides in Las Vegas with Syndicate MMA. She will be hoping to bounce back from her loss at UFC 238 and restart her title push?
Andrea Lee has had a flawless start to her UFC career, quickly progressing to 3-0 since her debut last July. Despite her struggles outside of the cage, Lee has been impressive inside, beating Montana De La Rosa in her most recent bout. With a victory over Calderwood, it could be difficult to deny Lee a title shot. The former Invicta FC fighter and LFA flyweight champion could be the one to hold the key to defeating the champion, Valentina Shevchenko. With her impressive stand-up, brown belt in both Judo and BJJ and her experience of fighting in multiple different organizations, she could give Shevchenko a run for her money.
Other fights to look out for at UFC 242
- Felder’s teammate Belal Muhammad faces the impressive Takashi Sato. Muhammad was most recently outpointed Curtis Millender. Sato scored vicious TKO victory over veteran Ben Saunders in his promotional debut in April.
- Hard-hitting fan favourite Mairbek Taisumov finally returns to face Carlos Diego Ferreira. Taisumov has scored five knockouts in his eight UFC bouts, earning three performance of the night bonuses. Coming off a USADA suspension, Taisumov will be looking to pick up where he left off with a win. Ferreira’s last loss came to Poirier back in 2015 but has been impressive since.
- Heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes is matched up against Shamil Abdurakhimov. Blaydes is coming off a dominant win over Justin Willis and will be looking to continue his road back to title contention at UFC 242. Abdurakhimov will be looking for his fourth straight win. With two finishes and a decision since his most recent loss, he will be looking to continue this trend against Blaydes.