UFC 242 hasn’t officially been announced yet, but that hasn’t stopped Khabib Nurmagomedov from starting to train for it.
Khabib will defend his UFC lightweight title against Dustin Poirier on September 7th from Abu Dhabi ... or at least, that’s what’s generally expected to happen as the UFC is being strangely noncommittal about making everything official. Maybe it’s all the logistics you need to triple check before holding an event in a place so remote most people only knew about it because of Garfield comics. Or maybe the UFC just had to wait until the NSAC confirmed Nurmagomedov’s teammates Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov could compete, allowing Khabib to say he stuck with his vow to not fight until they could.
Whatever the case, Nurmagomedov seems pretty confident everything is locked in because he’s starting his training camp for the fight. Khabib’s head coach at AKA revealed the news on his Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
I have to change to fight is not official yet ♂️ but I am Excited to start camp with the @khabib_nurmagomedov should it become official for Sept 7th @ufc Abu Dhabi against a very tough challenge in Dustin Poirier. But at end of that Night it will be and Still photo credit @frujuice_athletics #family #professional #reebok #reeboksponsored
”Excited to start camp with Khabib Nurmagomedov for Sept 7th UFC Abu Dhabi against a very tough challenge in Dustin Poirier,” Mendez wrote. “But at end of that Night it will be and still!”
Later he edited the caption, noting “I have to change to fight is not official yet.”
Official or not, it’s all but a sure thing that Nurmagomedov and Poirier will scrap in the Middle East in September. It will be Khabib’s first fight since defending his lightweight strap against Conor McGregor last October, dominating the former champ-champ before earning himself a suspension in an ugly post-fight brawl.
The good news is once Khabib gets back in action he plans to stay there. The Dagestani fighter has laid out plans to fight three times between September and the end of April: the next two number one contenders at lightweight and then Georges St-Pierre. Which may be tricky since GSP is retired and removed from the USADA drug testing pool, which has a six month waiting period to return to active competition.
But Khabib sounds strangely confident he can make it happen, and really ... what kind of dumbf**k world do we live in where Nurmagomedov vs. St-Pierre isn’t a fight any promoter would cut their left nut off to put together? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people. Why is this bout even in question?
I suppose Khabib will have to get past Poirier and probably the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone first. But given his absolute dominance thus far in his career, I don’t mind him forgoing the standard humility displayed by most fighters and looking that far into the future, especially when it’s so bright and beautiful and full of superfights.