This coming Saturday, the UFC’s two best lightweights will look to end the title dispute that has been present since April of this year. Headlining the MMA Leader’s return to Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to reclaim his undisputed championship status, when he fights interim champion, Dustin Poirier. Also featuring prominently on the card, Edson Barboza and Paul Felder run it back, in a rematch of their 2015 fight-of-the-year contender fight.
If you’re not caught up with the card, we’ve got you covered! See our full main-card breakdown, from top-to-bottom:
(c) Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) vs (ic) Dustin Poirier (25-5-1 NC) – for undisputed UFC lightweight championship
The stakes couldn’t be any higher in this bout. With the undisputed lightweight title on the line for the first time in 11 months, fans are excited to see will come out as the true kingpin at 155lbs.
Khabib Nurmagomedov presented himself as a force to be reckoned with in his UFC debut. Since that time, he has dominated every opponent that has stood in his way. His world-class sambo has given – even the most lethal of strikers – fits. With an ever-evolving striking game, ‘The Eagle‘ could smash his way to the top pound-for-pound ranking with a few more wins.
However, Dustin ‘The Diamond‘ Poirier is no pushover. The Lafayette-native is riding an impressive 5-fight win-streak (excluding a no-contest), 60% of which have been stoppages. While he does have a Brazilian-jiu-jitsu black belt, Poirier has shown his best work on the feet. He has picture-perfect precision and the ability to end a fight with one punch.
The odds are clearly stacked against Poirier in this fight. If fighting one of the most dominant champions in the UFC wasn’t tough enough, he is fighting in Abu Dhabi, where Khabib is the crowd favourite. Once again, Poirier has a strong chance of winning, but it will take all of his strength to pull off the upset.
Edson Barboza (20-7) vs Paul Felder (16-4) – lightweight bout
Crowd-pleasers Edson ‘Junior‘ Barboza and Paul ‘The Irish Dragon‘ Felder will square off for the second time, to see who takes one step closer to the coveted lightweight title fight.
Brazilian highlight-reel Edson Barboza made a name for himself for one reason: his incredible stand-up. He holds the distinction of being the only man in the UFC to have won a fight via head kick, body kick and leg kick. With 12 KO/TKO wins under his belt, whenever Barboza steps into the cages, there will be fireworks.
Philadelphia’s Felder will enter this fight with one motivation: to get this win back. With Barboza being his first professional loss, he is dead set on avenging it. Felder’s spectacular striking has brought him to the number 10 ranking. A mix of elite tae-kwon-do and superb karate could give Felder the nod in this matchup.
Felder is currently riding high, being 4-1 in his last 5, his only loss being a split decision at 170lbs. Barboza, on the other hand, isn’t doing as good, coming off of a KO loss in April. While a Barboza win isn’t out of the realm of possibility, it is widely expected that Felder will emerge victorious.
Islam Makhachev (17-1) vs Davi Ramos (10-2) – lightweight bout
Russia’s Islam Makhachev will look to prove that he can hang with the best-of-the-best, when he takes on rising prospect Davi Ramos.
Makhachev, who boasts an impressive 17-1 record, is coming off a win over fellow prospect, Arman Tsarukyan. As a training partner of that division’s champ, – Khabib Nurmagomedov – Makhachev is no stranger to a grappling match. Look for him to implement his strong ground game early on.
Ramos is currently riding a 4-fight win-streak, with most recent victory being a unanimous decision victory of Austin Hubbard. He has stated that he would like to grapple with his opponent and is interested in testing his jiu-jitsu skills. Ramos is a two-time gold medallist in the ADCC jiu-jitsu competition.
Makhachev is expected to rack up his 18th pro victory on this Saturday.
Curtis Blaydes (11-2-1 NC) vs Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-4)
Top heavyweight contenders Curtis Blaydes and Shamil Abdurakhimov will look to move closer to title contention in a main-card bout.
Curtis ‘Razor‘ Blaydes is looking to pick up another win after redeeming himself in March. Known as heavyweight’s dark-horse, Blaydes’ strongest attribute is his wrestling game. Standing at a frightening 6’4″ and weighing in at 260lbs, the former NCJAA wrestler is one of the most physically imposing in the heavyweight division.
Having fought the likes of Derrick Lewis, Andrei Arlovski, Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura, Shamil ‘Abrek‘ Abdurakhimov is now looking to burst into the top-tier of the heavyweight division. Holding the rank of national master of Wushu and international master of kickboxing, Abdurakhimov has a total of 9 KO/TKO victories out of his 20 wins.
While a continue of form for Abdurakhimov is a possibility, the most probable outcome is that ‘Razor‘ Blaydes will pick up a dominant decision victory.
Maribek Taisumov (27-5) vs Carlos Diego Ferreira (15-2)
Former M-1 Global star Maribek ‘Beckan‘ Taisumov looks to move one step closer to contendership in the UFC’s deepest divsion. Standing in his way is veteran of the sport, Carlos Diego Ferreira.
This fight will mark Taisumov’s 4th fight in 4 years, which is very inactive, in terms of the lightweight division. The Tiger-Muay-Thai prospect missed the upper 156lb weigh limit in his last outing, but successfully made weight for this fight. Undefeated since 2014, 5 of his last 6 wins have come by stoppage.
Brazil’s Ferreira has been a staple of 155lbs’ prospects for years. Since two losses to Beniel Dariush and Dustin Poirier, the BJJ black belt has gone 4-0, 2 of which were TKO wins. His most recent victory came against fellow contender, Rustam Khabilov.
Both 155’rs have a solid chance of winning this fight, but Taisumov is favourite in the MMA community.
How do you see these fights going down? Make sure to tell us in the comments and on our Twitter page, @ThePlanetMMA! Watch out for the Planet MMA staff picks, which debut on our Twitter page (big thanks to @erik-uebelacker).