The UFC 242 fight card in Abu Dhabi features the return of the lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagomedov, in a title unification bout with the interim lightweight top dog, Dustin Poirier. The UFC hasn’t been to Abu Dhabi since 2010 when the promotion put on “UFC 112: Invincible” featuring legends of the sport like Anderson Silva, Matt Huges, Frankie Edgar, and BJ Penn.

UFC 242 has an unusual start time — 2 p.m. Eastern time — because of the time difference between and U.S. and Dubai. With this fight card, fans will be in for an action-packed afternoon. The event airs as a pay-per-view on ESPN+. You can order it here.

Here are five must-see matches at UFC 242:

UFC 242 Must-See Matches: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier

The long-awaited return of the “The Eagle” is here as he finally gets the opportunity to defend his lightweight belt after taking it from UFC legend Conor McGregor. Despite beating McGregor via neck crank for the belt, the melee that ensued afterward left both fighters suspended. In Nurmagomedov’s absence, Dustin Poirier has stepped into the spotlight, taking the interim lightweight belt in a fight against Max Holloway at UFC 236.

Despite the ring-rust, Nurmagomedov’s ground game is still one of the most feared in the division. Holding a professional record of 27-0, Nurmagomedov has made his name by mauling fighters on the ground with his relentless takedowns and smothering top game. Poirier is a strong fighter on the ground, yet despite owning a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Tim Credeur should more than have his hands full with the Russian champion.

Poirier looked extremely strong in the interim title fight against Holloway and has proven himself to be one of the lightweight division’s most well-rounded fighters. As mentioned above, Poirier is a BJJ black belt and flashed some impressive improvements to his stand up game against Holloway. While not necessarily a power puncher, Poirier has improved the technical side of his striking considerably and has shown himself more than capable of stepping into the ring and being able to handle a fight wherever it goes.

Nurmagomedov’s fight style was tailor-made for his breakout matchup against Conor McGregor – essentially a pure striker – and while Poirier may not offer the same mass appeal that McGregor does, his style will likely make this a much tougher fight for the Russian champion.

UFC 242 Must-See Matches: Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder

In a matchup of UFC veterans, Edson Barboza and Paul Felder do battle once more as they run back their first meeting from 2015. Barboza got the best of Felder in the 2015 fight, with the bout going the distance before the judges unanimously ruled in favor of Barboza. Barboza’s losses are essentially a “who’s who” of the lightweight elite over the past decade and while never having the opportunity to fight for a belt, serves as the de-facto gatekeeper of the lightweight division. An exciting striker with a ground game that has steadily improved over the years, Barboza brings a tough challenge to the plate for nearly every fighter in the division.

Felder is coming off a rebound win over James Vick and the knockout artist could vault himself up into the lightweight elite with a big finish over Barboza. Barboza’s speed on the feet gave Felder trouble in their first go-round as the two took part an in incredibly exciting three-round war. However, Felder looks to be a slightly different fighter these days and while he still relies on his power somewhat, he has a bit more of a well-rounded standup game.

Featuring two exciting strikers who put on a show their first go-round, Barboza vs Felder 2 looks to be one of the can’t miss matchups at UFC 242.

UFC 242 Must-See Matches: Islam Makhachev vs Davi Ramos

Makhachev and Ramos bring one of the more interesting stylistic fights to UFC 242. Makhachev has a gold medal in Sambo from the 2016 World Championships and prefers to get the fight to the ground where – similar to training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov – he can impose his will and mentally break his opponents. Makhachev has shown some serious power in his hands, indicated by his 50 second knockout over Gleison Tibau, and while not necessarily refined on his feet, can end fights with his brute strength.

That said, Davi Ramos is a wizard on the ground. A 2015 ADCC champion whose only losses come outside of the lightweight division, Ramos poses arguably the stiffest test for Makhachev yet. Both fighters thrive on the ground and it should be interesting to see if Ramos’ technique can find him an opening to finish the fight or rather if Makhachev’s brutalizing takedowns and top game can stifle one of the world’s best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

UFC 242 airs September 7 on ESPN+, with a special early start time of 2 p.m. Eastern time. You can order it here.

UFC 242 Must-See Matches: Curtis Blaydes vs Shamil Abdurakhimov

The token heavyweight showdown on the evening, 11-2 Curtis Blaydes steps up to fight 20-4 Shamil
Abdurakhimov. Blaydes has won five of his last six fights, and his only losses have come at the hands of heavyweight juggernaut Francis Ngannou. Blaydes specializes in putting opponents on their back where he subsequently is able to pound them to a pulp, though Abdurakhimov has the skills to make that more difficult.

Abdurakhimov had an extremely strong showing in his lone headliner bout – a loss against Derrick Lewis. He actually dominated Lewis through the first three rounds before being finished via TKO in the start of the “championship rounds”. He won’t be tasked with going longer than three rounds against Blaydes and despite the lack of elite UFC competition, has shown himself to be an exceptionally tough fighter when he has some gas in the tank.

UFC 242 Must-See Matches: Mairbek Taisumov vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Despite rattling off six quality UFC wins in a row, Mairbek Taisumov’s name is one that has been somewhat sullied within the organization. Coming off a hefty suspension for violating USADA doping protocol, Taisumov looks to get back on the winning track against another fighter coming off a questionable situation.

Carlos Diego Ferreira pulled out of his fight against Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 237 due to complications stemming from his weight cut. While the specifics of Ferreira’s cut were not addressed, he was declared medically unfit to compete and forced out at UFC 237. With awareness around the dangers of irresponsible and excessive weight cuts in full swing, the backlash towards Ferreira was not pleasant. To make matters worse, this wasn’t Ferreira’s first issue with making weight as he was forced to forfeit a large chunk of his purse in his previous fight against Rustam Khabilov for missing weight at 155 pounds.

UFC 242 airs September 7 on ESPN+, with a special early start time of 2 p.m. Eastern time. You can order it here.

Source: New feed

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