Three title fights headline the UFC 251 card in the now-famous "Fight Island" just off Abu Dhabi. It's a star-studded affair with the likes of Kamara Usman, Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, and Jose Aldo in action. We have a betting preview right here with free picks to make!
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UFC 242 Betting Guide: The Return Of Khabib
Can the real Lightweight champion please stand up? That's at what's at stake in the UFC 242 main event featuring Nurmagomedov (the champion before his suspension) and Poirier (interim champion during Khabib's absence).
Online sportsbooks are currently pegging Khabib as the odds-on favorite. Here are more UFC odds favorites heading into the Saturday, September 7 card:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (-450)
- Edson Barboza (-155)
- Islam Makhachev (-335)
Before we get into our free UFC 242 picks, a quick reminder that picking Saturday's winners isn't the only way to win big. Online sportsbooks have a plethora of bonus offers available to take advantage of. Double up on both chances to really reap the rewards!
Main Event: Khabib Nurmagomedov (-450) vs. Dustin Poirier (+325)
The last time we saw Khabib was UFC 229, on a night where he made the sport's biggest star — McGregor — tap out, then proceeded to jump the cage and pick a fight with McGregor's posse. In between that and now, Khabib was forced out of the octagon on a nine-month suspension stemming from the post-fight antics.
During that same timeframe, Poirier staked his claim as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC with a unanimous decision victory over Max Halloway. The win, Poirier's ninth in his last 11 fights (one of these ended in a no contest), earned him the interim Lightweight title and all but set-up this showdown.
This fight pits two polar opposite styles against each other. Khabib has perhaps the most dominant ground game in UFC history. In 11 career UFC bouts, he's worn every single opponent down with a gruesome ground-and-pound game or submissions.
Not only is Khabib undefeated, but he's also only lost one round (to McGregor in the third) on a judge's scorecard. Just shy of 31 years old, Khabib is on his way to one of the most brilliant MMA careers of all time.
Poirier is a stand-up striker through and through, and one of the sport's best at that. Six of his last nine wins have come via stoppage. Honestly, against a fighter of Khabib's caliber, scoring an early knockout is the best chance at victory. The longer a fight drags on, the more deadly Khabib comes.
That was the narrative before Khabib and McGregor, another famous striker. But here's the difference between McGregor and Poirier's stand-up game — Poirier isn't a one-trick pony. The 30-year-old Poirier can swing with both hands in multiple stances, whereas McGregor was over-reliant on his left hand and had no Plan B when it wasn't working.
The only way we see Poirier winning this title fight is through knockout — a hint to prop bettors out there — but even then, it's a stretch. Until we see Khabib struggle in the octagon, it's tough to pick against him. He's currently on an all-time stretch of dominance and not even a year out of the UFC will affect him.
The UFC picks to make is Khabib via unanimous decision.
Pick: Nurmagomedov (-450)
Edson Barboza (-155) vs. Paul Felder (+125)
UFC 242 odds are relatively close in this lightweight matchup and for good reason. One one hand, these two met four years ago with Barboza prevailing via decision.
On the other hand, Barboza has been hot and cold since then, going 4-4 with losses to proven weight-class contenders like Khabib himself and Tony Ferguson. Felder has been much more consistent since then, racking up six wins in nine fights.
Almost immediately, Barboza's reach advantage stands out. He'll have five inches on Felder, and that plays to his attacking style that does the bulk of its damage from devastating leg kicks.
Felder, while seemingly on a career upswing, is actually two years older than Barboza at 35. It's going to take speed and athleticism from Felder to keep up with Barboza's style, which we just don't see happening at his age. Barboza by decision is our pick.
Pick: Barboza (-155)
Islam Makhachev (-335) vs. Davi Ramos (+255)
Makhachev is the teammate and lookalike of Khabib, but he's carving out a respectable career in his own right. Since debuting in the UFC back in 2015, he's gone 6-1. It probably comes as no surprise that Makhachev employs an eerily similar wrestling style to that of Khabib.
That sets up a grappling war with Ramos, who is a former ADCC Submission Wrestling Champion. So you can almost guarantee this fight will end either in submission or decision. Our bet is on Makhachev, continuing the trend of favorites pulling out the victory.
Pick: Makhachev (-335)
How To Watch & Bet
For the third time ever, a UFC show is coming live from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The time-zone difference means the UFC 242 main card is kicking off extra early at 2 pm EST on its usual home, ESPN+. The streaming network is the exclusive home for all UFC pay per views and this one is no different.
Now that you're up to speed with UFC 242, there's only one thing left to do — lay down a wager. One of our partners below can help you with that. They all offer friendly UFC Vegas odds, with even friendlier bonus offers for new bettors to really rack up the winnings.
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