Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is expected to make his next title defense against newly-crowned interim titleholder, Dustin Poirier, at the upcoming UFC 242 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi.
That’s going to be “The Eagle’s” second-easiest fight at 155 pounds, according to Coach Javier Mendez, who told SportsDaily.ru (via MMA News) that former lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, remains the most dangerous opponent in the division, despite getting tapped at UFC 229 last October.
“Talking about four potential rivals for Khabib I can give my assessment from the less dangerous to the most dangerous,” Mendes said. “Max Holloway to be the easiest for Khabib. Max has good boxing but it lacks the power to the lightweight division. Next on the list is Dustin Poirier. He’s got stamina and versatility. Tony Ferguson is my second choice. His elbows are very dangerous. And finally number one contender for me is still Conor. His boxing is special, that’s his chance.”
The chances of McGregor rematching Nurmagomedov are fairly remote. Not only does “The Eagle” have to first contend with Poirier, he’s likely to face the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone, who are set to collide at UFC 238 next month in Chicago (more on that fight here).
We also don’t yet know if and when “Notorious” will make his Octagon return in the wake of the promotion’s restrictive ESPN+ deal, which has already laid waste to one box-office juggernaut and could spell the end of the superstar era, according to this ex-fighter.
Perhaps we won’t know for sure until after UFC 242 ... stay tuned.