The last time unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) entered the Octagon, he proved himself as the best lightweight on the planet with a fourth-round submission of Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas last October 6.
But it was what happened after the title bout that resulted in Nurmagomedov receiving a nine-month suspension from a post-fight brawl with McGregor’s team, preventing him from competing leading up to Saturday’s championship matchup with interim champ Dustin Poirier (25-5, 1 No-Contest) at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. Nurmagomedov is listed as a -450 favorite (bet $450 to win $100) on the UFC odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Poirier is the +325 underdog (bet $100 to win $325) and won the interim belt by earning a hard-fought, five-round unanimous-decision victory against featherweight champ Max Holloway at UFC 236 back on April 13 in Atlanta. Holloway had moved up a weight class in hopes of becoming a two-division champion, but instead he was the fifth straight victim of Poirier, who also avenged a No-Contest in his last six fights by scoring a second-round TKO win over former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. Three of Poirier’s previous four bouts have won Fight of the Night bonuses for both fighters.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov’s largest knock going into the McGregor bout was that he defeated soft opponents prior to that. He beat Al Iaquinta for the lightweight title after fights with Tony Ferguson and Holloway fell through, so McGregor was his biggest test.
Another of Nurmagomedov’s recent foes will be featured in the co-main event, as Edson Barboza (20-7) battles Paul Felder (16-4) in another lightweight affair. Barboza is a -155 favorite at online betting sites despite dropping three of his past four bouts, and he is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30 in Philadelphia.
Felder has headed in the opposite direction though, winning four of his last five fights, with the lone loss during that stretch coming versus Mike Perry at welterweight. He is a +135 underdog after rebounding from that setback with a UD victory against James Vick at UFC on ESPN 1 on February 17 in Phoenix. His previous three wins before knocking off Vick all came by way of T/KO, as have 10 of his 16 in his MMA career overall.
Source: New feed