UFC 242’s main event is official after Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier made weight.
Both fighters we right on the 155lbs mark when they took to the scales in Abu Dhabi this morning.
The two men will unify the UFC’s lightweight division, with champion Nurmagomedov facing interim champ Poirier at The Arena on Saturday night.
In the co-main event, Paul Felder (155lbs) and Edson Barboza (155.5lbs) also made the lightweight mark.
The remaining fights on the main card will also all go ahead as planned with Islam Makhachev (155lbs) and Davi Ramos (156), Shamil Abdurakhimov (257lbs) and Curtis Blaydes (251lbs), and Diego Ferreira (156lbs) and Mairbek Taisumov (156lbs) all making their respective limits.
History will also be made in Abu Dhabi with the first women’s UFC fights to take place in Abu Dhabi. Joanne Calderwood and Andrea Lee both weight in at 126lbs for their flyweight clash. However, Canada’s Sarah Moras weighed in three pounds over the 135lbs bantamweight limit and will be fined 20% of her purse, but here fight with Liana Jojua (134.5lbs) will still go ahead.
Dustin Poirier has the skills,and conditioning to shake off the underdog tag and dethrone UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, says his coach Mike Brown.
The pair headline UFC 242 at The Arena in Abu Dhabi this weekend and Brown says he is comfortable with Khabib being a strong favourite for the fight and having the added pressure of rampant local support on his shoulders.
“I like the position of an underdog, and Dustin has been there before and pulled it out many times over. He is confident in his abilities and he is going to be ready on Saturday night.”
Poirier (25-5-1NC) has said he will shock the world, and despite not losing in his last six UFC contests, the undefeated Khabib will offer a challenge the like of which he has not seen before.
With his smothering style, top-class wrestling and ever-improving striking game, Khabib has mauled much of the lightweight division. 27 have tried, and failed to get the better of the Dagestan native, but Brown thinks The Diamond has the attributes to be the man to end the streak – even if the fights goes into Khabib’s domain on the mat.
“He will be very comfortable and confident in his abilities in looking for a submission or getting back to his feet – both are fine,” said Brown, a veteran of 36 professional fights himself and a spearhead of Poirier’s American Top Team. “Khabib also has skills on his feet, so both are well rounded mixed martial arts fighters and I think we will see a lot of everything in this fight.”
While Poirier may be versed on the floor, it is the striking department in which he looks to have a distinct advantage. The same could have been said of Conor McGregor, Khabib’s last victim, who found success on the feet when they met in October 2018, but was ultimately overrun, and submitted.
That success for McGregor came primarily in the third round of the bout, utilising his left hand and finding a home for it from range – something Poirier has excelled in previously – especially his last win over Max Holloway for the interim crown. Brown says it will be Poirier’s superior conditioning that will allow him to exploit these situations further than McGregor come Saturday night.
“I think the biggest difference is Dustin’s conditioning is some of the best I’ve seen and he is going to be dangerous from round one to round five. From minute one to minute 25 he is going to be powerful and he has the ability to knock you out at any time.”
UFC Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson says he is excited to see current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov take on Dustin Poirier and admits he would have loved to be the man taking centre stage in Abu Dhabi.
The 35-year-old Californian was speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show and said he was ready and waiting for the winner of the UFC 242 headliner.
El Cucuy, 25-3, has won his last 12 fights and has been acknowledged by both Khabib and Poirier as the next man in line for a shot at the title – a prospect he understandably relishes.
“I am excited to be in the spotlight, especially with Khabib and Poirier fighting this week,” he said. “There is a lot going on and I am really happy to be right in the middle of it.”
Ferguson has demolished his recent competition with his innovative brand of offence both on the feet and the mat, and will be a keen spectator come Saturday night, but refuses to be drawn on who he think will get the victory – despite saying he would love an all-American clash for the title with Poirier.
“I am thinking about the fight and how it’s going to go,” said the man with 11 stoppage wins on his UFC record. “I just hope that Dustin put in the work. I can guarantee both these fighters are nervous, it’s a in a great arena, I would have loved to fight for that title there. Hopefully there is going to be fireworks and hopefully they did enough work and can let the nerves out.”
It was suggested that Ferguson could have been put on standby to compete in Abu Dhabi should either fighter not be able to compete – a prospect was tempting, but ultimately one he dismissed.
“I would love to go, it was talked about,” he explained. “First of all though, I am not back up for anybody, I have got 12 fights (wins) in a row.
“I was kind of talked about but at the end of the day I’m not here to be backup. The next fight I have is for the belt and it’s going to have to have a lot of build-up, especially for the fans. It’s got to have the hype and deserves a full camp and lead-up time.
“We are going to have to see how this weekend goes.”
One name never too far away from the lightweight division is that of Conor McGregor. Ferguson has a history of trying to get the Irishman in the Octagon – but that interest has waned in light of last year’s defeat to Khabib.
There will always be talk of The Notorious in the title picture, especially if Khabib wins in Abu Dhabi and opens up the possibility of a high profile rematch.
Ferguson is determined to not lose his place in line.
“No way the fans would have that – they would put up too much of a fight,” he told Helwani. “I don’t know if he wants to fight anymore, he is not my concern. I stopped worrying about him, at first he was in line trying to go for the title and then once he became irrelevant I stopped caring about the dude.”