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UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier results and post-fight analysis

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Mookie Alexander recaps and analyzes a fun afternoon of fights at UFC 242, including another title win for Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is really good at what he does.

Yeah, I picked Dustin Poirier for the upset. I wasn’t even close. Outside of the opening minute of round two, it never felt like it was on the cards. Khabib got the exact fight he wanted out of Poirier, who seldom pressured, and that meant entries near the fence and extended grappling exchanges that he was always the favorite to win. Poirier could not break free from Khabib’s grip, and the guillotine that he tried in the third round just felt like a desperation attempt. When that failed, Khabib sunk in a rear-naked choke to defend his lightweight title in front of a raucous crowd at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.

Poirier is an outstanding fighter and while he’s been stopped before, no one has shut Dustin’s offense down that easily over an extended period of time. Nurmagomedov is just so damn strong, powerful, and he’s a step ahead of you on the ground seemingly at all times. No, he’s still not that great a striker and Poirier caught him a few times in round two, but none of it matters if you can’t build on those moments, because otherwise it seems almost inevitable that Khabib will have you on your back and drowning on dry land.

Presumably Tony Ferguson (for the 157th time) is the fight to make next. No UFC lightweight champion has ever defended his belt successfully more than three times. Khabib sits at two, so we’ll see if he can equal the accomplishments of B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, and Benson Henderson. After this performance, there’s no good reason for me to pick against him versus any of the prospective title challengers.

Main Card

  • Damn! Paul Felder and Edson Barboza went to war again, but this time Felder got the decision in his favor. I disagree with 30-27s either way (which is what we got), but while I scored the bout for Barboza, I’ve not got an issue with Felder getting the W. It was an outstanding contest between two super fun lightweight strikers, and now Felder is poised for bigger matchups ahead. I must add that he has one of the most insane chins in MMA right now, as Barboza laced him with brutal shots aplenty and yet it looked like the body shots had way more effect on him than the head strikes.
  • Islam Makhachev picked up a relatively comfortable unanimous decision over Davi Ramos, deferring to his striking, which was more accurate and technical than the winging shots of Ramos. Wasn’t a great fight but it certainly picked up after round one. Oh yes, and Makhachev was greeted by Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov afterward, in case you were wondering whether the UFC would welcome him with open arms.
  • Curtis Blaydes’ wrestling is great. His ground-and-pound is damn terrifying. Shamil Abdurakhimov never had a chance off of his back, and it cost him a functioning nose midway through round two. Blaydes has only ever lost to Francis Ngannou, and I will continue to stan for him as one of the top heavies in the sport.
  • I thought Mairbek Taisumov would be a horrible matchup for Carlos Diego Ferreira. I’m a dumbass, and I was also wrong. Ferreira did have to weather the early storm in round one, but he thoroughly outstruck Taisumov to take an unexpectedly dominant decision. Taisumov was exhausted and Ferreira was relentless with his pressure and volume. Big upset win for the veteran Brazilian lightweight, who put in the best performance of his career.

Preliminary Card

  • Joanne Calderwood put in a much better performance against Andrea Lee than she did vs. Katlyn Chookagian. In a grueling, back-and-forth bout, Calderwood had a strong final round against a fatigued Lee, outstriking “KGB” on her way to a split decision win. Calderwood keeps herself in title contention, while Lee ends up with her first UFC defeat.
  • I’ve got no problem with Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Lerone Murphy ending in a draw. Tukhugov had a huge first-round and nearly had the quick KO, but Murphy had the better offense in the last two frames. Tukhugov was doing close to nothing with his takedowns as the fight progressed, and ultimately the one judge who gave Tukhugov a 10-8 round 1 is the reason neither man will leave with a win bonus. Murphy looks like a good prospect, and I was impressed with what he displayed on short notice.
  • Sarah Moras outclassed former FNG champion Liana Jojua and picked up a third-round TKO from mount. Much-needed win for Moras, who missed weight for her final fight of her UFC contract, but Jojua looked not remotely ready for UFC competition.
  • Ottman Azaitar had one of the most frightening KO wins I’ve seen in some time. He was bashing Teemu Packalen with right hands for much of their (brief) fight, and the last one he landed faceplanted Teemu and had him shaking. Luckily Packalen got back up afterward, but Azaitar couldn’t have asked for a better UFC debut.
  • I love watching Belal Muhammad. He dominated Takashi Sato with big strikes, well-timed takedowns, and he picked up his first career submission win by rear-naked choking the Japanese fighter in the final round. Muhammad then called for a fight with Li Jingliang, and while Li probably deserves a top-15 opponent at this point, don’t act like Belal is out of his depth in that matchup.
  • The King of Kung Fu is back! Muslim Salikhov wiped out Nordine Taleb with a vicious right hand that had Taleb’s head bouncing on the canvas like a basketball. He is a ridiculously powerful and dangerous fighter, and Taleb found out the hard way.
  • Don Madge and Omari Akhmedov got the card kicked off with respective decision wins over Fares Ziam and Zak Cummings respectively. Madge vs. Ziam was... not good. Akhmedov largely controlled things outside of an early knockdown in round 1.