Despite ripping Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for the lackluster promotion of UFC on ESPN+ 7 from inside Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was still in attendance earlier today (Sat., April 20, 2019) to witness the action first hand.
After seeing some incredible fights, which included a co-main event victory for Nurmagomedov’s teammate, Islam Makhachev, Khabib joined the UFC on ESPN+7 post-fight show to discuss his upcoming return to the Octagon. Remember, Khabib has been serving a nine-month suspension for his role in UFC 229’s post-fight brawl.
Upon his return, Nurmagomedov will square off with interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier, who just won the “temporary belt” earlier this month at UFC 236 with an impressive decision win over UFC featherweight king Max Holloway. Khabib, who originally expected “Blessed” to defeat Poirier, talked about “Diamond’s” title fight victory.
“I think it was very good performance from Dustin Poirier,” said Nurmagomedov. “Honestly, before fight I think Holloway going to beat him. This is my prediction when you 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 deserve title shot. He already interim UFC lightweight champion, I am real lightweight champion. We have to fight. Now we’re working on this.”
Nurmagomedov, 30, has been the most dominant force in UFC since making his debut back in 2012. In total, “Eagle” has compiled an unblemished 11-0 Octagon record with key victories over Conor McGregor, Edson Barboza, Al Iaquinta, Rafael dos Anjos, and Michael Johnson. He has barely been touched inside of the cage and has never actually lost a round in UFC competition.
So while Poirier has looked downright unstoppable on the heels of four-straight victories, including three wins over current or former UFC champions, Khabib’s confidence entering their anticipated title fight later this year remains at an all-time high.
“He have very good background, he have good ground game – not bad – he have good striking game,” Nurmagomedov said. “I follow him long time and versus me – I think I have to maul him like I do with everybody. This is what I have to do. I respect him like fighter, like human, but when we go to the cage I have to maul this guy. This is what I want and right now I am focused on September. Five month before fight and I think it’s going to be really good fight with him.”
Poirier will now have five months to prepare for the hardest fight of his career. The same should be said about Khabib considering Poirier’s well-rounded arsenal, but the UFC lightweight king makes every fight look easy.
For complete UFC St. Petersburg results and coverage click here.