UFC 242: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

UFC 242

Getty Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia chases down Conor McGregor of Ireland in their UFC lightweight championship bout.

UFC 242, headlined by a lightweight unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier, offers an exciting night of fights as the UFC makes its return back to Abu Dhabi for the first time since 2014. The event airs as a pay-per-view on ESPN+ with a special early start time of 2 p.m Eastern time. You can order it here.

Coming off the heels of a loaded UFC 241 card that saw Stipe Miocic take back the Heavyweight belt while Nate Diaz made his long-awaited return to the promotion, UFC 242 has some big shoes to fill.

That said, UFC 242 has the makings of a card that can certainly fill the void left by such a the star-studded 241. Aside from the title unification bout, 242 gives an extended look at some of the sport’s exciting up and comers as well as an exciting heavyweight showdown between two of the division’s most fun strikers.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. UFC 242 Start Time Is Unusually Early: 2 p.m. Eastern

Abu Dhabi

GettyThe sun sets over the skyline of Abu Dhabi city.

With the majority of UFC events being held in the United States, UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi has a significantly earlier start time. With the main card set to get underway at 2pm ET, the preliminary card is set for a 12pm ET start while the early prelims get underway even earlier at 10:15 am ET.

The extreme time difference could offer a bit of a challenge for fighters traveling from well outside the region as the card takes place a full eight hours earlier than fights in Vegas – the traditional hub of activity for the UFC.

2. UFC 242 Is the Start of a 5-Year Partnership With Abu Dhabi

UFC Abu Dhabi

UFC President Dana White, who helped orchestrate the UFC and Abu Dhabi partnership.

UFC 242 marks only the third UFC event to take place in Abu Dhabi, though that number is set to rise considerably over the next five years. After making their promotional debut in 2010 with UFC 112: Invincible and following that up with a 2014 Fight Night headlined by Roy Nelson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, UFC 242 serves as the flagship event to kick off the promotion’s new partnership with Abu Dhabi.

Set to host a steady stream of championship fights through 2024, Abu Dhabi looks to establish itself as one of the UFC’s biggest locations capable of hosting the company’s biggest championship fights. The UFC has traditionally been very successful in Abu Dhabi and the much-anticipated return of the promotion’s lightweight king undoubtedly brings a palpable buzz to 242.

UFC 242 airs September 7 on ESPN+, with a special early start time of 2 p.m. Eastern time. You can order it here.

3. Abu Dhabi Has Played Host to Some of the UFC’s Most Famous (& Infamous) Fights

UFC 112

GettyBJ Penn of the US attacks his compatriot Frankie Edgar during their Ultimate Fighting Championship 112 lightweight bout in Abu Dhabi.

UFC 112: Invincible featured one of the sport’s most iconic fights alongside what was – at the time – considered to be a major black eye on the sport. In the co-main event, relative unknown Frankie Edgar took the fight to champion and UFC legend B.J. Penn and picked up an upset win in an incredibly exciting five-round war. The fight would serve as the start of the downfall for Penn as the former two-division champ would struggle to adapt to the more modernized approach of the UFC. Meanwhile, the fight would serve as a springboard for Frankie Edgar, who still competes at a high level for the promotion to this day.

However, just after the epic five-round war, MMA legend and (at the time) pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva defended his middleweight belt against Demian Maia – a late replacement. Maia’s experience and advantage as an elite grappler led him to try and take the fight to the ground repeatedly and unsuccessfully. Eventually resorting to laying on his back and asking Silva to take top position, the fight got extremely awkward at times and drew heavy boos from the Abu Dhabi crowd as Silva taunted Maia repeatedly around the ring. Silva would eventually be awarded the decision win after five awkward rounds, though the ugly display in the UFC’s highly anticipated Abu Dhabi headliner was a hot button issue for some considerable time afterward.

4. Khabib Nurmagomedov Returns to the Octagon at UFC 242

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia makes his entrance before competing against Conor McGregor.

Speaking of the return of the lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov finally steps back into the octagon after having been away since October 2018, when he fought and beat Conor McGregor. The brawl that ensued after the fight cost both fighters significant time in the form of heavy suspensions and in Nurmagomedov’s absence, Dustin Poirier scooped up the interim lightweight championship belt.

Nurmagomedov made quick work of McGregor, arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the history of the sport, and UFC fans have been chomping at the bit to see how his suffocating ground game holds up against a wide array of elite talent. Poirier, one of the promotion’s most well-rounded fighters, should offer a considerably different test compared to McGregor.

Poirier is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt – forcing Nurmagomedov to think twice about taking him to the ground. Against McGregor, Nurmagomedov was able to shoot for takedowns at will – which in turn opened up his hands to do some damage on the feet. Against Poirier, establishing a dominant top position may not be as easy and his head will need to be on a swivel while he shoots for takedowns and fights for position as any small mistake could lead to Poirier catching him in a submission.

5. UFC 242 Features a Heavy Dose of Fighters From Dagestan

Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev celebrates his first round knockout against Gleison Tibau.

Aside from the most well-known of fighters from Dagestan in Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 242 features a number of Khabib’s fellow Dagestani fighters – in large part due to the Russian region’s relative proximity to Abu Dhabi. Also featured on the card are Dagestani fighters Islam Makhachev, Muslim Salikhov, and Omari Akhmedov. In fact, every fight on the main card, with the exception of Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder features at least one Russian fighter.

Khabib’s success has thrust the Russian region into the MMA spotlight as a host of exciting young prospects continue to seep their way into the UFC by way of Dagestan. While up and coming Dagestani superstar Zabit Magomedsharipov isn’t featured on the card, a number of other excellent fighters get an opportunity to shine. With fighters like Khabib and Zabit owning a relentless top game and heavy hands, the two have helped to establish a gritty reputation for their fellow fighters from the region.

UFC 242 airs September 7 on ESPN+, with a special early start time of 2 p.m. Eastern time. You can order it here.

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