At UFC 242, the UFC Lightweight Champion returns to action, defending his crown against interim titleholder Dustin Poirier.
With the headline bout now officially announced for September 7th in Abu Dhabi, the pair met for their opening press conference, taking questions from the media in London, England. After being asked about his foe's biggest threats by Fightful's Harry Kettle, Nurmagomedov expressed his respect for Poirier. “I think his experience," he said. "He has good experience, he has more than 20 fights in the UFC. Someone beat him, he beat someone.
"This is experience. I respect him as a human, as a fighter, he’s beat a lot of tough guys. Last fight he impressed me on his boxing, he had good moments and that’s why this is so big you know? He’s become interim UFC Lightweight Champion for a reason, he beat Max Holloway, he beat a lot of former champions but for me, everything is the same. Nothing’s changed. When the cage closes, I’m going to keep going."
That respect is mutual and though Poirier fought more recently, he's far from confident that his activity will give him an advantage. “Everybody’s different," Poirier said. "I don’t know, he might pick up right where he left off. That’s on him, I can’t get into his head and feel how he’s feeling so I don’t know about that. But he’s got a lot of experience in the UFC, got a lot of fights on his record so I believe he’s gonna start off how he left off. I don’t think there’s any ring-rust there."
Poirier's last outing was indeed impressive regardless, scoring a memorable points victory over Featherweight kingpin Max Holloway. On the other hand, Nurmagomedov hasn't fought since October 2018, famously submitting Conor McGregor before a post-fight scuffle resulted in a nine-month suspension as well as a $500,000 fine.
UFC 242 takes place on September 7th in Abu Dhabi and will air on ESPN+.