UFC 242 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2019

UFC 242 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    The Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will play host to UFC 242. Atop the card sits a unification bout between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier.

    The lightweight tilt is the centerpiece of the event. After Nurmagomedov's thrashing of Conor McGregor, he has ascended to stardom in the sport. He is a dominant force with an undefeated professional record. A rarity in MMA.

    Can Poirier topple the king?

    In the co-main event, lightweights Edson Barboza and Paul Felder collide again in a rematch from their hotly contested 2015 affair. What has changed since that time?

    The Bleacher Report staff has come together once again to answer those questions and provide prognostications for all five of UFC 242's main card contests. Want to know what the experts think? Let's get down to the nitty-gritty and start predicting UFC 242.

Mairbek Taisumov vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira

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    Nathan McCarter

    I've always been very high on Carlos Diego Ferreira, and it's nice to have him back as an active roster member.

    Mairbek Taisumov is not an easy out, but the clinch and ground game should favor Ferreira here. Ferreira may stand for an exchange or two, but he knows where his advantage is in this one.

    Taisumov should prove a little too tough to finish, but it will be a solid 15-minute opener with Ferreira taking the fight on all three scorecards.

    Ferreira, unanimous decision

          

    Scott Harris

    Taisumov hails from Chechnya, a southwestern Russian republic with some rather interesting ties to MMA.

    Taisumov is a pretty fun fighter, with a lot of arrows in the metaphorical quiver. Ferreira hits hard but is mainly a grappler.

    Did he really beat Rustam Khabilov in his last fight? Meh, that doesn't really mean what it used to. Anyway, Taisumov gets the better of a quick and dirty slugfest.

    Taisumov, TKO, Rd. 1

            

    Jonathan Snowden

    The opening bout of a contemporary UFC pay-per-view is where they stick two fighters you've never heard of but who matchmakers expect to have a heck of a fight. So, I guess this might be good? Both guys have power in their hands, so don't get up for a snack here.

    Taisumov, TKO, Rd. 2

Curtis Blaydes vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov

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    McCarter

    This is Curtis Blaydes' fight to lose. After Francis Ngannou had a couple of lackluster performances, and Blaydes went on a four-fight streak, they booked the rematch building up Blaydes. Instead, the fearsome Ngannou returned to form and got the TKO finish in 45 seconds.

    What it does show is that the UFC is high on Blaydes. They aren't going to sell him down the river for Shamil Abdurakhimov.

    Blaydes will use his wrestling to win the position battle before laying in heavy ground and pound that will put a stop to the fight.

    Blaydes, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Harris

    Name the heavyweights Blaydes has lost to in his nine-fight UFC tenure. If you said "Francis Ngannou," that's correct, and that is the list.

    He's got legit wrestling to power a confident striking game. Abdurakhimov's primary skill appears to be lumbering. Blaydes is gonna lumber him right out of there, I'll tell you that right now.

    Blaydes, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Snowden

    Blaydes has spent more than three years bowling over most of the UFC's heavyweight class. Guys you've never heard of with names like "Daniel Omielanczuk" have fallen to his mighty hand.

    He's proved over and over, seven times if you're counting, that he's a notch above your typical heavyweight sluggard. He'll make that clear once again.

    Blaydes, unanimous decision

Islam Makhachev vs. Davi Ramos

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    McCarter

    Sometimes the truth hurts: This is an embarrassing main card fight. I suppose it'll be an OK fight, but what is it doing here? I'll take Islam Makhachev by decision, but this is the fight to settle your nerves before watching the final two bouts.

    Makhachev, unanimous decision

           

    Harris

    Wait a second, Nathan. Don't overlook these smaller names so fast. Makhachev is a good buddy of Nurmagomedov's and wields the same belt-sander-after-a-lightning-strike style—and in the same weight class no less.

    Davi Ramos is a world jiu-jitsu champion on a four-fight UFC win streak. Let's all hope this doesn't default to some disgusting stand-up thing and we get some heady exchanges on the mat. Regardless, the second of the main card's three Dagestanis should cruise.

    Makhachev, unanimous decision

            

    Snowden

    I stand with Scott here. This is like Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren but for people who obsessively watch undercard bouts from the world over.

    Of course, as Scott also darkly hinted, more often than not potential grappling classics morph into listless kickboxing matches. Here's hoping that's not what happens here.

    Ramos, submission, Rd. 3

Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder

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    McCarter

    Barboza won a decision against Felder in 2015. A lot has changed since then, but a lot has also stayed the same.

    The Brazilian still holds the stylistic advantage over Felder. But that doesn't always signal who will win, and I don't think it will Saturday.

    Barboza has been in a lot of wars and is coming off a KO loss to Justin Gaethje. The damage is catching up to him. Felder is going to connect flush at some point, and Barboza won't be able to recover.

    Felder, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Harris

    All I know is, I always pick against Barboza and am usually wrong. Even though he's dropped three of four, that Dan Hooker knockout is still replaying itself in my mind.

    Barboza's 33, but here's guessing he has more fights left in him and will use his leg kicks to slow and eventually stop Felder.

    Barboza, TKO, Rd. 3

           

    Snowden

    Like Scott, I typically pick against Barboza. That's what happens when a fighter fails every time he gets a big opportunity. It makes it easy to forget that, against average competition, the guy is still a wrecking ball.

    Barboza, unanimous decision

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier

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    McCarter

    Poirier is a thrill to watch, but I am not buying into his chances here. Nurmagomedov will be able to secure a takedown, or 20, and have his way with the talent from Louisiana.

    An upset would not be staggering, but I would be surprised nonetheless. Another will is set to be broken by "The Eagle." Another one-sided main event of a UFC PPV is on tap.

    Nurmagomedov, TKO, Rd. 4

          

    Harris

    A window might open for Poirier, but it will only be a crack. His punch combinations will find the mark a time or two, and he'll use scrambles to keep Nurmagomedov from getting into a groove on the ground, but as time goes on, it will start to feel more and more like delaying the inevitable. Just like every other Nurmagomedov fight.

    Nurmagomedov, unanimous decision

          

    Snowden

    One of the most interesting things about Khabib's fight with Conor McGregor is that, despite the convincing nature of his loss, McGregor's strategy actually worked. After weathering an early storm, he did get his opportunities on the feet and suckered a cocky Nurmagomedov into a handful of standing exchanges.

    The MMA community, rightfully so, is focused mostly on results and little on process. But the fight footage provides Poirier with the most powerful weapon of all—hope.

    Still, this is going to be a five-round slog. Hope you're ready for 30 minutes of wrestling.

    Nurmagomedov, unanimous decision