Unlike his last fight against Conor McGregor, there is no bad blood between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier but the reigning UFC lightweight champion predicts a similar outcome.
Nurmagomedov, who is currently serving out a nine month suspension for a post fight brawl after his last bout against McGregor, watched Poirier become the interim UFC lightweight champion this past weekend with a unanimous decision victory over Max Holloway.
While it was a battle throughout all five rounds, Poirier still gutted out the win and even Nurmagomedov had to admit he was surprised by how it all unfolded.
“I think it was a very good performance from Dustin Poirier,” Nurmagomedov told the ESPN+ post fight show at UFC Fight Night in Saint Petersburg, Russia. “Honestly before the fight, I thought Holloway was going to beat him. This was my prediction when we talk with friends, with father, with team, but he impressed me. Dustin has impressed me. I think he has very good boxing, much better than before. Every fight he becomes stronger, better in boxing on his feet. I think he deserves title shot.
“He’s already interim lightweight champion, I’m real lightweight champion. We have to fight. Now we’re working on this.”
While there won’t be much trash talking between the two fighters as Nurmagomedov and Poirier have already shown each other a lot of respect ahead of their eventual showdown, that won’t stop the undefeated Russian from doing what he does best.
Nurmagomedov has been a punishing force of nature in virtually every fight he’s had in the UFC and he has no plans of stopping when he meets Poirier later this year.
“A long time I follow him, he has a very good background, he has a very good ground game, not bad. He has a good striking game. I follow him a long time and versus me, I think I have to maul him like I do with everybody,” Nurmagomedov said. 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. This is what I want.”
As far as timing goes, Nurmagomedov has been steadfast with a targeted return date in September after his suspension is lifted and after he observes Ramadan in the early summer in May and June.
After that, Nurmagomedov will be ready to get back to business with Poirier already set as his next opponent.
“Right now I am focused on September,” Nurmagomedov stated. “Five months before fight and I think it’s going to be a very good fight with him.”