Khabib Nurmagomedov in the fight of Dustin Poirier: "I have to maul it, as I do with everyone"


Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier seems to be the next step to the lightweight UFC category.

Speaking at UFC St. Petersburg on Saturday, UFC light heavyweight champion Nurmagomedov admitted he was surprised by Poirier's provisional victory over Max Holloway at UFC 236 and said preliminary discussions have already begun for a unification match between he and Poirier in September, probably at UFC 241 in Abu Dhabi.

"I think it was a great performance for Dustin Poirier," said Nurmagomedov on ESPN +. "Honestly, before the fight, I thought Holloway was going to beat him. This is my prediction when we talk to the fans, to the father, to the team. But he impresses me. Dustin impressed me.

"I think he has very good boxing, much better than before. Every fight, he becomes stronger and better at boxing, standing up. And I think he deserves it. [the] title show I think because he is already UFC interim champion, I'm lightweight champion, we have to fight. And now we're working on it. "

Nurmagomedov (27-0) is currently serving a nine-month suspension stemming from his post-fight fight with Conor McGregor's team members following his unilateral defeat of McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018.

An undefeated sambo savant, Nurmagomedov has overtaken the UFC lightweight division since entering the promotion in 2012, accumulating a flawless 11-0 record that includes victories over McGregor, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza and Rafael dos Anjos, among others. His fight against McGregor at UFC 229 broke records as the best-selling pay-per-view in mixed martial arts history.

Poirier (25-5, 1 NC), however, emerged as a force to be seen in the lightweight UFC division, after a long road and a roller coaster for gold.

At UFC 236, the 30-year-old American won the provisional lightweight title in his 22nd appearance in the Octagon with his tough win over Holloway. Now, Poirier will face four straight wins in his Nurmagomedov title fight, a victory for Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and Holloway.

"Long time, I follow. He has a very good background, "Nurmagomedov said of Poirier. "He has a good ground game, not bad. He has a good game. I followed you a long time ago. And against me? I think I have to hurt him, like I do with everyone. This is what I have to do. I respect him as a fighter, as a human, but when we go to the cage, I have to nibble this guy. This is what I want. And now I'm focused on September, five months before the fight, and I think it will be great to fight him. "


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