Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Khabib Nurmagomedov makes return in Abu Dhabi: What to expect at UFC 242

Unbeaten UFC lightweight champion will take on Dustin Poirier at The Arena on Yas Island

Khabib Nurmagomedov will make his return from suspension at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. AFP
Khabib Nurmagomedov will make his return from suspension at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. AFP

Last week, the UFC confirmed Khabib Nurmagomedov will headline the promotion’s return to Abu Dhabi – UFC 242 – on September 7. Here’s why it has quickly become one of the must-see events in the UAE this year.

Who is Khabib?

The undefeated Russian, 30, is the current UFC lightweight champion and one of the promotion’s biggest attractions, with almost 15 million followers on Instagram. A devout Muslim, he is a regular visitor to the Emirates.

What is his record?

Nurmagomedov, a supreme wrestler, boasts a perfect record in mixed martial arts (MMA), with 27 victories from 27 professional fights. He sealed the lightweight crown in April 2018, when he recorded a unanimous-decision victory against American Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.

However, Nurmagomedov has not fought since his fourth-round submission victory against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last October, when a post-bout brawl resulted in the Russian being handed a nine-month suspension.

Why was he banned?

The build-up to the Las Vegas meet between Nurmagomedov and McGregor was marred by controversy, with both fighters’ camps clashing long before the bout took place. A melee broke out immediately following the match-up, when Nurmagomedov jumped the octagon fence to confront McGregor’s team, while some of the Russian’s camp clashed with the Irishman inside the ring.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission later gave McGregor a six-month ban and $50,000 (Dh183,600) fine, while Nurmagomedov was fined $500,000.

Who is he fighting?

Nurmagomedov will take on Dustin Poirier at The Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The American defeated Max Holloway at UFC 236 in April to capture the interim belt, meaning the fight with Nurmagomedov is a lightweight unification match. Also aged 30, Poirier has 25 wins and five losses from 31 MMA fights. "The Diamond" is undefeated in his past six bouts.

What to expect on Sept 7?

The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for the third time following events in 2010 and 2014. The September 7 fight night, part of the five-year agreement signed with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) in April, has already garnered significant attention.

Tickets went on sale on Friday and, such has been the interest, that as of Sunday, only Category 1 tickets remain available. They can be found at https://www.ticketmaster.ae.

While Nurmagomedov-Poirier represents the pay-per-view (PPV) main event, three other bouts have been confirmed. The full and final fight card is yet to be announced.

Updated: June 9, 2019 03:55 PM

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