UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier | Televised Prelim Predictions

UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier | Televised Prelim Predictions

125lbs- #6 Andrea Lee (10-2-0) vs #5 Joanne Calderwood (13-3-0)

The final fight of the undercard offers potential title contention implications as rising contender Andrea “KGB” Lee takes on Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood in the Women’s Flyweight division. Lee is undefeated in the UFC at 3-0 including wins over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Montana De La Rosa- she has won 7 fights in a row. Calderwood is coming off a loss to Katlyn Chookagian, her first defeat in the UFC as a Flyweight- she is 3-1 at 125-pounds.

Both fighters are 5’6″, but Lee will have a 4″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 4-years.

Lee offers a strong striking attack that saw her batter De La Rosa and put up a UFC-personal best 111 significant strikes against Evans-Smith. She works well from range with crisp boxing and a solid kicking attack. Her forward pressure and hand positioning are key to her success- forcing her foe to fight from a defensive position.

One area of concern has been her TDD. While Lee has routinely shown the ability to get back to her feet- she has given up 8 takedowns over 3 Octagon appearances.

JoJo is coming off a frustrating defeat that saw her outland her foe 112 to 82 in conjunction with a 3-0 edge in takedowns- yet she lost a decision. At times, Calderwood seemed unwilling to commit to her techniques and often didn’t land with as much impact. She had had issues with holding back and allowing her foe to strike first.

When she is on, Calderwood can be a lethal striker. She also has shown a willingness to work in takedowns; she has landed 9 takedowns over 5 UFC wins compared to just 3 in her 4 losses.

Lee’s reach is a key factor here. Calderwood likes to attack with low kicks, but Lee will find success countering with her hand strikes. As a result, Lee’s offense should weigh heavier with the judges. Calderwood is strong in the clinch, but so is Lee and “KGB” is an excellent scrambler which will negate Joanne’s TDAs. This find stands to be close, but in the end Lee will simply do more- my prediction is Andrea Lee to defeat Joanne Calderwood by decision.

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145lbs- Zubaira Tukhugov (18-4-0) vs Lerone Murphy (5-0-0)

Undefeated British Featherweight Lerone “The Miracle” Murphy draws a tough opponent in Khabib teammate Zubaira Tukhugov. Tukhugov is coming off a split decision loss to Rentao Moicano- ending his 9-fight winning streak. Murphy turned pro in 2016, went 3-0 in 2017 and fought just once in 2018- winning by decision.

Murphy is an inch taller and he will have a 5″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

It has been nearly 40-months since Zubaira last fought in the UFC. His role in the UFC 229 brawl and previous USADA suspension are responsible for his time away.

The Brit has finished a trio of opponents by first-round knockout, sandwiched between his 2 decision wins. He has recently faced a pair of opponents with respectable records, but also fought a 7-40 foe.

He has decent striking skills with good power, but the low level of competition has most likely played a significant role in his success.

Tukhugov is a capable fighter both on the mat and the feet, but he fails to push the pace at convincing rate. His last 2 bouts both ended via split decision with the Russian landing a combined 50 strikes to his opponents’ 64.

He will work in takedowns when needed, scoring completions in 3 of his 4 UFC fights.

This is a difficult fight to predict. Murphy is coming in on short notice and taking a massive step up in competition. Tukhugov has been out of action for a long time, but he is fighting at home. Murphy appears to be the superior athlete and should have a speed advantage. Tukhugov needs to show an improved volume attack and mix in his takedowns to help score points. Ultimately, the layoff and recent struggles of Tukhugov are hard to overlook against the length, speed, and capable striking attack of Murphy- despite the experience factor my prediction is Lerone Murphy to defeat Zubaira Tukhugov by decision.

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135lbs- Liana Jojua (7-2-0) vs Sarah Moras (5-5-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Canada’s Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras battles the debuting Liana Jojua of Georgia. Moras’ record currently sits at .500 including a 2-4 record in the UFC- she has lost 3 straight. Jojua has won 5-straight after suffering through a brief 2 fight losing skid that dropped her early record to 2-2.

Moras is 3-inches taller than Liana and she will have a 5″ reach advantage. Jojua is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Moras is a capable grappler with good submission skills. She finished Ashlee Evans-Smith via sub and has completed at least 1 takedown in each of her last 3 fights and 4 of 6 overall.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s Cardio is abysmal and usually sees her start to fade before the conclusion of the opening frame. She is just 1-5 over her last 6 fights to leave the first frame.

The UFC newcomer hasn’t seen action in 19-months which is a concern for a young and debuting fighter. Conversely, the time away could also give her the required time to make further additions to her overall game.

Liana is a strong grappler, finishing 5 of her 7 wins by submission- 4 by armbar. She is coming off a 5-round decision win to capture the Fight Nights Global title.

In Jojua’s last fight she spent some time on her back, but showcased some impressive submission defense. She will need to be on point to avoid Moras’ grappling attack. Sarah has a tendency to sacrifice position for submission which can be costly. Additionally, she lacks the wrestling to routinely get on top and her striking is sub-par. Jojua’s standup is still a work in progress, but this fight will most likely be contested on the floor. Jojua will survive the early exchanges and capitalize on a fading foe- my prediction is Liana Jojua to defeat Sarah Moras by submission.

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155lbs- Teemu Packalen (8-2-0) vs Ottman Azaitar (11-0-0)

The opening televised prelim features the debut of Ottman “Bulldozer” Azaitair taking in the returning Teemu Packalen in the Lightweight division. Packalen came to the UFC undefeated, but he has lost 2 of his 3 including a brutal knockout loss to Marc Diakiese in his last fight. Azaitar is undefeated, finishing each of his last 3 opponents by some form of knockout.

Packalen is a tall Lightweight at 6’1″, he is 5-inches taller than Azaitar to go along with a 4″reach advantage. Ottman is the younger man by 3-years.

Both fighters are returning to action after a prolonged break; Azaitar hasn’t fought in just under 13-months, but Packalen has been shelved for nearly 30-months. Further to that, Packalen was out almost a year prior to his last fight and he has had just 54-seconds of cage time over his last 2 fights.

Azaitar has finished 10 of his 11 opponents- 7 by knockout with 8 finishes in the first frame. His last 3 opponents are a combined 38-29. As his nickname indicates, he is at his best bulldozing forward and throwing heavy flurries of power punches.

“Pacu” has an opportunistic submission game, showcasing it in his only UFC win. He dropped his foe during an initial exchange before sinking in a rear-naked choke. He has utilized a variety of different holds to secure victories, ending 6 of his 8 wins in the first frame.

Ottman has had issues with fighters looking to take him down, but he has a solid wrestling attack and is decent at getting back to his feet. If he makes a positional mistake, Packalen can capitalize and finish the fight. The pressure of Azaitar should create a lot of problems for a fighter that has been out of action for a long time. With Azaitar pressing forward and throwing power, he should find success on the feet until he puts Teemu down- my prediction is Ottman Azaitar to defeat Teemu Packalen by knockout.

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