Things may be about to come full circle for Paul Felder, as he prepares to make 155 pounds as a potential replacement for Nurmagomedov or Poirier in their upcoming bout.
UFC 242 on September 7th in Abu Dhabi promises to put the best UFC fighters to the test. Especially in the main event where lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov faces off against Dustin Poirier.
Paul Felder will be rubbing shoulders with the headliners as he faces Edson Barboza in the co-main event. If the opportunity arises, Felder is clear that he will fill in for either Nurmagomedov or Poirier in the main event — even at the last minute.
This isn’t the first time Felder has put himself forward for a last-minute withdrawal against the lightweight champ. At UFC 223, Tony Ferguson was forced to pull out against “The Eagle” due to a knee injury. Max Holloway was expected to replace him but was deemed medically unfit to take the fight. As luck would have it, Felder was preparing to fight Al Iaquinta and put himself forward as the next replacement.
His luck ran out when the NYSAC rejected the potential matchup, citing that Felder was not a ranked fighter. Instead, his opponent, Iaquinta got the call and went on to fight Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. Despite the nonstop changes and subsequent loss for Iaquinta, he fought hard and gave Khabib some of the strongest adversity the champ has ever faced. Felder had no potential replacement for his fight and was ultimately removed from the card.
After suffering back-to-back cancelled bouts, Felder is pushing full steam ahead for the co-main event or potential main event next month in Abu Dhabi. Currently ranked number 10 in the lightweight division, Felder is preparing to weigh 155 or less in case either fighter drops out. On MMA Junkie Radio, Felder was asked if he was excited about the upcoming bout:
“A co-main event with Khabib and Poirier headlining? The answer is yes. I’ll be making 155 pounds for weigh-ins. Of course,” said Felder as he expects the unexpected at UFC 242.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/18/2019.
Dustin Poirier believes his upcoming fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov is very similar to Rocky IV. There, Rocky Balboa went to Russia to take on Ivan Drago, the heavyweight Russian. In Poirier’s case, he is going to Abu Dhabi to take on undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov where the Russian will have the Muslim crowd behind him.
“This is real, I’m a world champion,” Poirier said to ESPN. “As is he. This is a super fight to me. That’s how I feel, that’s what this feels like to me. We’re going to a sold-out arena they’re building as we speak in Abu Dhabi, the middle of the desert, and princes and sheiks will be there. It’s crazy. It’s a Rocky movie.”
Dustin Poirier believes Khabib Nurmagomedov can be beaten by anybody
Just like the Rocky movie, Dustin Poirier expects the same result where Rocky went in and beat the Russian in his territory. He knows other fighters have made mistakes against Nurmagomedov and knows he can’t just focus on defending the takedowns. Rather, he says he needs to use his strengths and fight his game plan and make the champ adjust, rather than him doing the adjusting, which most fighters have had to do.
“A lot of guys he’s fought have the skills to beat him,” Poirier said. “Fighting’s a crazy thing, it takes one mistake. He can be beaten by anybody. It’s just as camps going on for me, I’m starting to realize things and say, ‘Well I wonder if they made this mistake’. I’ve only been in camp for a week. But, I’m noticing I’m paying a lot of attention to specific positions and the small details in those positions. I can see how somebody fighting a dominant guy who’s never been beat like Khabib could get not overwhelmed, but look too far in the details of defense and staying safe and position.
“It’s a ying-yang, man. You got to have a balance. If you just worry about that, you lose what you do the best.”
Do you think Dustin Poirier will be able to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/17/2019.
Jorge Masvidal can close the door on at least one of the fights he was hoping for. The boss said a matchup with Conor McGregor isn’t going to happen for him.
UFC president Dana White was cornered by TMZ Sports and asked what might be next for McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC), a former featherweight and lightweight champion who is approaching a year since his most recent fight.
White said he expects McGregor to be back by early 2020 at the latest. But he said the recently resurgent Masvidal (34-13 UFC, 11-6 UFC) won’t get a welterweight fight against McGregor, even though McGregor fought twice at the weight class against Nate Diaz in 2016.
“Masvidal’s too big for Conor,” White said. “(McGregor) shouldn’t have (fought at 170). I hated that he did it. Not only did I hate that he did it once, I hated that he did it twice.
“There’s plenty of fights for (Masvidal) in his weight division without Conor. He’s too big for Conor. Conor doesn’t belong at 170. He’s got the balls to fight at 170, but he doesn’t belong there. Hell no, (it won’t happen).”
As for McGregor, White also seemed to rule out him fighting the winner of the upcoming lightweight title unification fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier, which headlines UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
“I think he’ll either back this year or early next year,” White said. “We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in September. No, (he doesn’t get the Nurmagomedov-Poirier winner), but it’ll shake a lot of things up, whoever wins that fight.”
For more on upcoming UFC events, check out the UFC schedule.
The UFC rankings seem to be meaningless these days, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to talk about. Pound-for-pound rankings are a fun concept, but difficult to come up with a tangible formula for. We here at MMASucka have decided to formulate our own UFC pound-for-pound rankings. Our formula? “Who would be the best fighter if everyone was the same size?” That is the question we set out to answer.
MMASucka’s UFC Pound-for-Pound Rankings
The following writers contributed to the creation of this list. Each fighter’s own personal rankings can be found at the bottom of this page.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker is without a doubt one of the most underrated fighters in all of MMA. His striking is right up there with the best in the sport. Whittaker is extremely layered as a striker, as his stand up game just seems to flow. He manages distance well, and is proficient at damaging his opponents while he is coming forward or moving backwards. Essentially, Robert Whittaker’s game can be described as “he is good at not getting hit, and even better at hitting his opponents.”
Not only has Whittaker mastered the finer details of striking, but he also possesses legitimate knockout power. To go with all of this, The Reaper has tremendous hips and takedown defense, which leaves his opponents with one option: strike with him, and lose. Since Whittaker’s move to middleweight, all of his opponents not named Yoel Romero have been beaten down, and as long as the Aussie stays healthy, he is poised to be on top of the division for a long time.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 8
#2: Max Holloway
Despite a loss in his UFC lightweight debut, Max Holloway is still undoubtedly one of the best fighters to ever fight in the UFC. The pace he sets and the extreme volume he puts out in each fight has a way of breaking his opponents down. We saw it happen most recently to Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega. “Blessed” doesn’t exactly possess one punch knockout power, but the damage he can do over the course of a fight really adds up on an opponent. Holloway has really great footwork and uses it well to mix his angles and keep his opponents guessing. As seen in the Dustin Poirier fight, even when Holloway does get hit, he has a granite chin and impressive recovery. Elite boxing, an incredible pace, a superhero chin and underrated takedown defense make Max Holloway one of the best all-around fighters in the UFC.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 6
#3: Henry Cejudo
Henry Cejudo might not always show an extremely nuanced approach to the technical aspects of MMA, but he is likely the best athlete in the UFC. A few things that come to mind with Cejudo are speed, explosive power, and a chin like we have never seen before. As seen against Marlon Moraes, Cejudo still isn’t a great range fighter, especially when his opponent is willing to attack his legs. But, in the same fight, Cejudo showed his durability, very good work in the clinch and persistence in the pocket. In the third and final round of the fight, Cejudo was blasting Moraes with knees to the body out of the clinch. The fight-ending sequence came when he forced Moraes’s back to the fence, took him down, and choked him out. As Cejudo continues to improve as a boxer, his grappling skills and pure athleticism will make him a tough out against anyone in the UFC.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 4
#4: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Coming in at number four on the list is the Russian grappling sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov. Every time he steps into the octagon, “The Eagle” has shown he is as good as it gets in the grappling department. An enthusiastic pressure fighter, Nurmagomedov’s best work comes after he gets his opponent’s back to the fence. When he gets his opponent to the fence, there’s typically no stopping the fight from going to the ground. After it gets there, Nurmagomedov uses his otherworldly top game to smother his opponent. He specifically excels at tying up his opponents’ legs and controlling their wrists. This presents The Eagle the opportunity to do what he does best: smash. Though he’s no K-1 level kickboxer, Nurmagomedov does well enough on the feet to advance forward and get the fight to the ground. His very durable chin and solid cardio allow him to walk through his opponents until they have nowhere to go but to the ground.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 3
#5: Kamaru Usman
Similar to the man who preceded him on this list, Kamaru Usman makes his money through grappling, particularly wrestling. “The Nigerian Nightmare” is absurdly strong for the welterweight division and is definitely one of the strongest pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. Like Nurmagomedov, Usman does great work when he can force his opponents against the fence. He is great in the clinch, and when he gets his opponents to the ground, they don’t get back up. Though he’s not a finisher, Usman has shown an uncanny ability to grind his opponents down over the course of a fight. Look no further than his dominant victories over Tyron Woodley and Rafael dos Anjos. Against opponents who don’t like having their backs to the fence, Usman showed just how dominant he can be in that position. His strength, cardio, and wrestling skills will likely keep Kamaru Usman on top of the welterweight division for a long time, as long as he doesn’t move up to middleweight.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 7
#6: Dustin Poirier
Dustin Poirier has definitely been one of the most improved stars in the UFC over the past couple of years. Since making his return to lightweight, Poirier holds a record of 9-1-1 in the division. “The Diamond” has developed into one of the best boxers in the entire promotion. He has legitimate knockout power for the lightweight division. He can strike well moving in both directions, but definitely does his best work going forward and countering. Poirier mixes his angles well, and he can strike effectively at range or in the pocket. Combine that with a BJJ black belt, more than capable wrestling abilities, and a strong top game (ask Anthony Pettis), Poirier is a tough matchup for anyone in the lightweight division. If he can find a way to stay off of the cage and keep his upcoming fight with Nurmagomedov on the feet, Poirier could be the first man to defeat the Dagestani champion.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 10
#7: Yoel Romero
Yoel Romero is one of the most intimidating fighters in the UFC. Originally known for his Olympic-level wrestling, Romero has developed into one of the ten best boxers in the UFC. He’s not a high volume striker, but fights in explosive bursts where every strike has the potential to take the target’s head off. These bursts proved very effective in Romero’s rematch with Whittaker. He dropped Whittaker multiple times throughout the fight with great counterstriking. His great wrestling skills (offensive and defensive) paired with his much-improved boxing make Romero one of the very best fighters in the UFC. In the promotion, Romero has only ever lost to Whittaker. A fight that everyone should want to see is a matchup between Romero and our next entry at light heavyweight.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: Unranked
#8: Jon Jones
Likely controversially, Jon Jones comes in at number eight on our list. Widely considered as the greatest fighter of all time, Jones hasn’t looked like the Jon Jones of old in his recent fights. “Bones” hasn’t developed his stand up game as the sport has evolved. He is used to relying on an absurd reach advantage, to the point where he hasn’t needed to showcase elite boxing or footwork to win fights. Despite all that, Jones still belongs on this list, mostly thanks to his incredible clinch game. He does his best work with elbows out of the clinch, and can work his opponent to the ground from the clinch as well. Though he hasn’t showed it recently, Jones does have a very strong wrestling game, too. To top it off, Jones is solid defensively and incredibly durable. If he does take any considerable damage, Jones typically walks through it and continues to do work while picking apart his opponent.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 2
#9: Tony Ferguson
A fan favorite action fighter, Tony Ferguson is one of the most unique and exciting fighters in the UFC. Everything Ferguson does is unorthodox, but he makes it work so well. His cardio is the best in the UFC, he’s extremely dangerous off of his back, and is unpredictable and wildly effective on the feet. A slow starter, Ferguson doesn’t ever seem to be at full strength until he is dropped or at least rocked in a fight. When adversity arrives, Ferguson is at his absolute best. Ferguson’s opponents almost always leave the cage covered in blood and completely exhausted. Currently on a 12 fight win streak, only one person in the UFC has been able to crack the code of stopping Ferguson’s madness.
Official UFC P4P Ranking: 12
#10: Daniel Cormier
The other controversy on this list is Daniel Cormier rounding it out at number ten. Most fans consider “DC” to be one of the top two or three fighters in MMA. At 40 years old, Cormier seems to become more successful with age. Back in the heavyweight division, Cormier has shown no signs of slowing down. He is most known for his wrestling, top game, toughness and great cardio. Most recently, Cormier showcased his grappling skills against Volkan Oezdemir and Derrick Lewis. DC is also strong in the clinch, and is a good enough striker to work his way into grappling exchanges safely. Cormier has only ever lost to Jon Jones, and a second win over Miocic could jump him up this list and make a case for him as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has run through all of his opposition, and he doesn’t see his next fight going any differently.
Nurmagomedov will look to unify the lightweight titles on Sept. 7 when he takes on interim champ Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 main event at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Last Friday at the UFC summer press conference in Las Vegas, undefeated Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) said he respects Poirier’s toughness but expects to maul him, like he’s done with all his previous opponents
“I just want to maul people,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is what I want to do. Doesn’t matter – Dustin, Tony or other opponents. Doesn’t matter. When I go to the cage, I maul my opponents. All my life, 27-0. People talk about his (six-fight) win streak. What about 27 win streak? Eleven years undefeated. I don’t underestimate this guy. I know he’s tough challenge. But this guy not on my level.”
Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) is coming off the biggest win of his career, a dominant fourth-round submission finish over Conor McGregor, which marked his first title defense.
Poirier (25-5-1 MMA, 17-4-1 UFC) captured the interim belt by defeating featherweight champ Max Holloway via unanimous decision in April. Nurmagomedov admits he was a little surprised with Poirier’s win and believes the “Diamond” is in for an experience unlike any other.
“Dustin is tough guy,” Nurmagomedov said. “He have more than 20 fight in UFC. He have good experience. Honestly, last fight I expect Max is going to beat him. This one is a little bit surprise for me. He have good boxing, good footwork. But last six fights, he fight with only striking guys. He never fight with guy who all the time wrestling with him, like my style.
“I think it’s going to be tough night for him. This is my opinion, because he has to be ready. I’m going to wrestle with him all night, make him tired, and make him tap. This is my plan.”
UFC President Dana White, and headlining fighters competing in upcoming marquee events, will participate in a special press conference ahead of UFC 239: Jones vs Santos on Friday, July 5th at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The press conference kicks off at 2:30pm PT / 5:30pm ET.
Watch to see Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier, Daniel Cormier, Stipe Miocic, Max Holloway, and Frankie Edgar.