Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to The Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last night (Sat., Sept. 7, 2019) for UFC 242. If we’re being fully honest, a huge majority of the intrigue here was focused on the main event, the first Lightweight title fight in roughly a year. The rest of the card was not terrible, but it tended to lean more towards action fights than important bouts. Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night!
Nurmagomedov Startles Poirier
Nurmagomedov does roughly the same thing to all of his opponents. Eventually, he gets them to the fence, drops down to a leg, transitionally wrestles, and then dominates from top position. Poirier offered some new challenges for the Dagestani — namely powerful punches-in-bunches — but he fell like all the others.
Poirer attempted a lot of the correct strategy. He did his best to stall Nurmagomedov’s top position mauling, always working to scramble and stand back up. On his feet, Poirier touched the body and leg with kicks. He managed to rock “The Eagle” badly in the second, though Poirier tried to force the finish a bit too much afterward.
However, there were definite errors in execution on the part of Poirier. As a result of his rushed attempts at finishing the fight, Nurmagomedov routinely wound up in more dominant positions. Given a dozen attempts to slip the arm under the neck, Nurmagomedov eventually found success.
Quick Kicks of Barboza
Look, I’m fairly certain that Edson Barboza deserved to win this decision.
However, it was interesting to see a rematch years after the initial bout feature such similar exchanges. Once more, Barboza stayed evasive and ripped kicks, while Felder pressured and tried to find a home for his right hand. For most of the fight, Barboza’s kicks and counter punches reigned supreme. His left kick to the mid-section was particularly fast, and there were a few times when Felder visibly grimaced his way through the impact of these loud kicks.
Credit to Paul Felder, he stuck to the game plan. By the third round, the momentum had clearly shifted, as fatigue saw Barboza throw fewer big blows. Felder was able to gain the pocket and land well then, but it seemed Barboza’s early lead was too great... only for the judges to say otherwise.
Ferreira Fights Hard
For most of the first round, Mairbek Taisumov lived up to his reputation. The Tiger Muay-trained striker moved extraordinarily well, slipping punches, pivoting, and pulling perfectly. Carlos Diego Ferreira pressured forward, but early it just ran him into offense. Taisumov kicked out the ankle off Ferreira, and landed a half-dozen pulls directly into right hands, one of which buckled the Brazilian’s knees.
Ferreira is a tough human being. Despite some really ferocious punches coming back his way, he simply stayed the path, and it worked perfectly. Different styles of fighting require different levels of energy use: Ferreira’s slow march forward and consistent punching was far easier to maintain than Taisumov’s athletic bounces and explosive strikes.
Likely aided by the incredibly hot arena, Ferreira’s pressure wore on Taisumov quickly. By the second round, Taisumov was not longer moving his head as actively nor his feet as quickly. As a result, Ferreira’s right hand landed with shocking consistency, snapping his foe’s head back. In addition, Ferreira began going to work with his right leg, slamming round kicks to the head and thing while needling a snap kick into the belly as well.
There was no second wind for Taisumov. Once Ferreira took control, he kept the fight in the pocket never let up on the aggression.
- Curtis Blaydes defeats Shamir Abdurakhimov via second-round knockout: Blaydes’ UFC career has featured some growing pains and ugly fights, but his high-level of success makes it easy to forget just how early it is in his professional career. Blaydes has a lot of years left as a top contender, and if last night’s performance is anything to go by, he’s going to maul a lot of fighters. Blaydes’ wrestling was dominant as ever, but he did a much better job of really smashing his foe once the position was secure — a clear sign of development.
- Ottman Azaitar defeats Teemu Packalen via first-round knockout: Azaitar made his intentions clear almost immediately. Slipping and rolling his head, “Bulldozer” worked his way forward and flung hard left hooks and overhands — it didn’t take long for them to land. Uncomfortable with the pressure, Packalen tried to stick his foe with the jab, but he did not feint or switch up his timing at all. As a result, Azaitar was able to time one jab with a perfect cross counter, prompting Packalen to fall face-first to the mat.
- Belal Muhammed defeats Takashi Sato via third-round rear naked choke: Muhammed is a very good fighter, but his nights at the office are rarely easy. As usual, Muhammed faced some early adversity in the form of Sato’s quick, powerful strikes, but “Remember The Name” is rare discouraged. Muhammed fought well to close the distance, often doubling on strikes, and used body punches to set up his takedowns. Muhammed wrestled smartly and usually worked to take the back in scrambles, which eventually resulted in the late finish.
- Muslim Salikhov defeats Nordine Taleb via first-round knockout: One of the roughest match ups in this sport is when a fighter faces off with a better version of himself. Taleb wins fights with Muay Thai, picking his opponent at range and beating up the lead leg. Opposite the “King of Kung Fu,” Taleb’s kicks came up short while his own leg was chewed up. There was still a possible path to victory for Taleb — whose wrestling and cardio may have helped as the fight wore on — but Salikhov found a home for a perfect right hand that bounced his foe’s head off the mat numerous times.
For complete UFC 242 results and play-by-play, click HERE!