Dustin Poirier has nothing personal against Khabib Nurmagomedov other than the UFC lightweight title that’s currently wrapped around his waist.
At UFC 236, Poirier solidified his place as Nurmagomedov’s next opponent after he became the interim lightweight champion with a hard fought five round decision against reigning featherweight king Max Holloway.
In the aftermath of that victory, Nurmagomedov admitted he was impressed by Poirier’s performance but that wouldn’t stop him from imposing his will on the Louisiana native when they met inside the Octagon.
“I think I have to maul him like I do with everybody,” Nurmagomedov said this past Saturday in his native Russia. “This is what I have to do. I respect him like a fighter, like a human but when we go to the cage, I have to maul this guy.”
Considering the way that Nurmagomedov has laid waste to every opponent who has faced him during his career, it’s not a surprise he’s predicting a similar outcome for his fight against Poirier.
While some fighters might get fired up after hearing those words from an opponent, Poirier actually expects nothing less because he’s going to say much the same when asked about his plans for Nurmagomedov.
There’s no bad blood between the two lightweight champions but Poirier plans to do bodily harm to Nurmagomedov when they meet and he fully expects the undefeated Russian to do everything possible to hold onto his lightweight title.
“This is fighting. I’m going to try to hurt him for 25 minutes. I’m going to try to stop his body from working,” Poirier said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “That means nothing saying ‘I’m going to maul him’. You’re supposed to. I expect the same from him when I say I’m going to hurt him, I expect the same that he’s going to try to hurt me and take me out. That’s what fighting is.
“We’re not in there playing tennis. What can a guy say at this point? 40 fights into this crazy thing called mixed martial arts, I don’t care anymore. None of that bothers me anymore.”
All that matters to Poirier is getting his hand raised at the end of the night.
It could come from a first round knockout or a grueling five round war, Poirier doesn’t seem to care much so long as he gets the job done and he’s crowned the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.
“I know what I need to do,” Poirier said. “I know how long I have to do it — 25 minutes — that’s all I care about.”
As far as the timing for the fight, Poirier hopes that Nurmagomedov’s request for September is granted because that would be the perfect timing for him as well.
Outside of a few bumps and bruises, Poirier is healthy and ready to tackle another championship training camp after taking a little bit of time off to spend with his family.
Poirier says as of now, the UFC hasn’t made any official offer to him for the fight but he fully expects that to be the next piece of business he has to handle later this year.
“That’s exactly what I want,” Poirier said about fighting in September. “Just that. I want to spend a couple months at home training, helping out local guys, friends of mine who fight professionally here in Louisiana. Maybe I’ll take a couple weekend trips up to Florida just to work on some stuff. But I’d really like to lock in July sometime, head up to Florida for the long haul for another camp.
“We’ll see. This is a crazy sport. Nothing’s certain. I don’t know what month we’re going to fight. I’m hoping that’s the next fight. Dana [White] said it is. Khabib [Nurmagomedov] said it is so that’s what I’m expecting.”