UFC 242’s Main Event is Champion Khabib vs Interim Champion Poirier
UFC 242 takes the world MMA leader to Abu Dhabi for one of the biggest fights of the year where the lightweight title will finally be unified.
Dustin “The Diamond’ Poirier captured the interim lightweight belt while Khabib sat on the sidelines after taking the undisputed belt from Conor McGregor and then initiating a brawl with McGregor’s team.
With Khabib sidelined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the UFC decided to move forward with an interim title match where Max Holloway moved up from 145 to challenge for the vacant 155-pound belt against Dustin.
Dustin Poirier was a decent sized underdog in that match and showed the world what he can do against a champion level fighter and maybe the best 145er we have ever seen. Now he has a taller mountain to climb with the return of Khabib.
Dustin Poirier (+305) Stats:
30 years old
5.75 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
4.08 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
69% Takedown Defense
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
Record: 25 – 5
9-1-1 in last 11
76% Finish Rate
Dustin Poirier has been fighting for as long as I can remember and somehow he is just now reaching his fighting prime. There isn’t a name on Dustin’s resume that you wouldn’t recognize.
The Diamond has faced everybody from long-time veterans like Jim Miller and Bobby Green, to fan favorites like Justin Gaethje and The Korean Zombie, to champions and future legends of the sport like Max Holloway and Conor McGregor.
Dustin has grown up in front of us fighting since all the way back in 2009 when he was just 20 years old and he is finally putting it all together.
Poirier is on a crazy run right now with only 1 loss and 1 no-contest for an accidental knee (in a fight he was close to finishing) in his last 11. Since he moved up from 145 he has completely filled out as a 155er and when he faced Max Holloway he really showed the size difference between the two divisions.
Not only was Poirier bigger in the fight against Max, but he was more technical, AND he matched Max’s cardio which I think will heavily play in the upcoming fight against Khabib. On top of all of his physical skills, Dustin has undying confidence in himself.
When you listen to his interviews he talks about how inevitable it is that he will one day be the champion and there is a cold-blooded killer behind his eyes. He truly believes that it is his destiny to sit on the lightweight throne and it is only a matter of time until he does.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (-425) Stats:
30 years old
4.29 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
1.70 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
5.09 Average Takedowns Landed Per 15 minutes
44% Takedown Accuracy
Undefeated since pro career began in 2008
63% Finish Rate
Reading Khabib’s stats there are 2 that jump off the page at you. While Khabib deals out 4.29 significant strikes per minute he only absorbs 1.70 in return. That is a MASSIVE differential and is due to the fact that his opponents are generally underneath him and at his mercy.
The second is his insane 5.09 takedowns landed per 15 minutes. Before Colby Covington there was Khabib. He will drag you to the ground and then do it again and again and again until you are exhausted and broken.
So far there is not one man who has been able to defend this onslaught of offensive grappling and more often than not Khabib makes his opponents quit and will submit them late in the championship rounds.
Khabib trains out of American Kickboxing Academy with former fellow champions and grappling standouts Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold and regularly trains with these monsters who fight two and even three weight classes above him.
Nurmagomedov is HUGE for 155 and somehow has a gas tank that seems to never end. Back that with his underrated striking game and its no small surprise that he holds the undisputed belt right now.
Khabib is in his fighting prime, but he has talked many times about retirement as he is older in the game than even Dustin at this point. Khabib has been fighting professionally and has been training as a wrestler since he was a toddler. There is a video of Khabib being forced to grapple with a bear as a child. I’m not kidding.
How could you possibly pick anybody but Khabib in this situation? He hasn’t lost ever and has been dominating some of the best fighters that lightweight has ever seen. The biggest issue here is the betting line. Dustin has been criminally underrated in recent history, being an underdog in 5 of his last 6 fights.
At this point, he embraces the role of underdog and when you combine the deadly combination of his speed, precision, power, and BJJ black belt Dustin shouldn’t be this big of an underdog to ANYBODY.
We just saw the fall of AKA where both Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier fell from grace. The 3rd pillar of that gym finally reached the highest height of the sports capturing the most prominent belt in the MMA world and defeating the biggest name in the sport.
If there was ever a letdown spot for Khabib this would be it. Poirier is a man obsessed! Khabib’s greatest weapon is his cardio and we just saw Dustin demolish Max Holloway, who is the only other fighter who I would put on Khabib’s level, over 25 minutes.
Dustin has made a career of bending fate to his will and while stepping in front of Khabib hasn’t worked for those trying to do so in the past I think this might be the time he has met his match.