The stage is set for the local fighters to have a huge advantage over their opponents at Abu Dhabi. UFC 242 is set to be the biggest stage for Khabib and all the Russian and Muslim fighters on Saturday and I expect there to be a massive home town advantage for them.
When the crowd roars with every move you make and every strike you throw it truly does sway the judges and there will be plenty of that on Saturday.
1st Leg: Ottman Azaitar (-235)
29 years old
11 – 0
Ottman is an impressive 11 and 0 coming into his UFC debut and meets 8-2 Teemu Packalen. Packalen has an awkward striking style and shoots in for takedowns from crazy ankles without setting them up. He has been gone for roughly 2 years with injury and hasn’t had a good road so far in the UFC going 1-2.
Ottman has heavy KO power and excellent recovery when he gets clipped and between rounds. Azaitar is physically powerful and has a dominant wrestling and offensive submission game.
The UFC appears to be attempting to use a struggling fighter with a contract in hot water against the local flavor here by giving newcomer Ottman an easy first fight. Packalen has his back against the wall and a tall challenge in front of him if he wants to keep his job.
Weather by submission, KO, or decision I would expect Azaitar to come out on top here.
2nd Leg: Mairbek Tukhugov (-410)
28 years old
18 – 4
2.53 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
2.09 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
Tukhugov is a friend and training partner of champion Khabib and has been out of action since he jumped the fence and sucker-punched Conor McGregor in 2016 after Kahbib won the undisputed belt.
The UFC didn’t slap Tukhugov with a lifetime ban like they did Paul Daley for similar aggression several years ago and they have let him back after just a short year or two. Not only that but they are throwing him an unknown lay up.
Lerone Murphy might be a decent fighter but this is his UFC debut. He is 5-0 and he is being thrown at a serious contender with a massive experience edge. The UFC WANTS Tukhugov to win this fight and look good in front of all of Abu Dhabi and give the hometown crowd something to cheer about.
Murphy is athletic but very very green. If he were to pull off the win here I would be VERY surprised.
Anchor: Islam Makhachev (-335)
27 years old
17 – 1
1.91 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
0.83 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
Islam Makhachev owns the UFC’s current record as the only fighter with 5 of more UFC fights and absorbing less than 1 significant strike per minute on average. The simple fact is that Islam fights and doesn’t get hit by his opponents.
He has a 70% takedown accuracy rate and averages 4.25 takedowns per 15 minutes. Makhachev also has an astounding 92% takedown defense. The short explanation for these numbers is that Islam decides where his fights take place and either on the feet or on the mat he isn’t taking any damage.
Davi Ramos is a dangerous power striker with a scary BJJ submission game but if he is forced to stand with Islam he will be at a severe speed advantage. As we know speed and precision kill in MMA. With the amount of muscle on Ramos, he tends to slow down and tire in the later rounds.
Islam is going to make Ramos work and as he does Ramos will get tired and Makhavhev will only get stronger. I expect Islam to outstrike and out grapple Ramos for a full 15 minutes and the longer this fight goes the more it will play in the favor of Islam Makhachev.
Pick: 3 leg parlay +130 with 5Dimes