First half is a recap of 241 and how we had our worst predictions set ever on that one (been doing these things since Aldo was still champion). The second half is predictions for the biggest UFC 242 fights.
Khabib vs Poirier - I went out on a limb and picked Poirier but I wouldn't remotely bet it. I just wanted some variation in our picks and I think Poirier is getting dogged a little. There are ways for him to win but everything has to fall right. My markers
1. Above 50% takedown defense rate. This is attainable because Khabib likes to give up an attempt to reset at new angle or with a new grip. Poirier is pretty good at pivoting out when an opponent breaks his grip. The caveat is he's also habitually going for chokes and damage that could leave him over reaching during a reset.
2. Cardio has to hold up. Diamond just did four straight cardio wars. Eddie, Gaethje, Eddie again, Holloway...in terms of pressure and cardio, these guys are top tier. The question is whether Poirier's cardio holds up as well with grappling and that's anyone's guess. The good news is he's a BJJ blackbelt and good in clinch situations but beyond that it's speculation.
3. Power translating...Khabib has rarely been hurt by opponents but Michael Johnson staggered him. A Southpaw with good reach and boxing fundamentals is the one guy to stagger Khabib momentarily...Dustin has those same attributes and more power. So if Dustin has impact that can push Khabib back or force him to shift and back away; he might just be able to get better spacing to defend. It also helps that Dustin is a combination puncher with good angle selection but how important that is when Khabib is chasing hips, legs and ankles to grab on to; I don't know.
Khabib should win though. Just tryna make it interesting.
Felder vs Barboza - Went with Felder. He's a smarter fighter than he gets credit for and Edson hasn't grown much imo since they fought. The first was a classic and close but Barboza was too fast. Felder should have some adjustments and I'm counting on him forcing an in-fight early and often. Barboza's speed is the game changer though. I'm taking Felder but this'll be decided by where it takes place. If they fight at range, Edson wins again. If Felder can force things into tighter areas, he'll have the edge.
Islam Makchaev vs Davi Ramos - Played it safe and picked Islam. He's apparently the most ducked Lightweight right now (along with Gillespie) and also Khabib's best training partner. He's a great grappler with crazy pace but not as good as Khabib. He's a better striker though imo, just sharper all around. Ramos is BJJ elite, an ADCC level killer. Against a fast paced grappler he's got a chance to score a sweep or choke and get the upset; he's just that great on the ground. This is closer than the line says but I do think Makchaev is the real deal and I lean toward him winning.
Last Andrea Lee vs Joanne Calderwood - I added this one in because it's a sleeper FOTN contender. Both are kickboxers, both mix in wrestling well and both hit hard for 125. The interesting thing for me is that I give Lee a slight talent edge but Jojo has one of the best coaches in the game (Firas Zahabi). So it's possible that this is one where tactics and adjustments decide things rather than skill and athleticism. That said, I picked KGB because I'm a stan for her style in the octagon. She's my divisional darkhorse.
Other than that, make note fam...UFC 242 is starting at 12:00 PM and the main card starts at 2:00 PM. It'll be done in time for dinner and a night out, so don't forget that and miss it. The card lacks star power but the fights are mostly interesting and could be good. Except for Blaydes/Abdurahimov; I think that'll be a boring one.