Dustin Poirier’s performance and win against Max Holloway shocked many in the mixed martial arts world, including UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Poirier and Holloway met for the interim lightweight title in the main event of UFC 236 earlier this year. It was a competitive affair, but one that eventually saw “The Diamond” come out on top despite going into the bout as a betting underdog.
As a result, Poirier became the new interim lightweight champion and is now set to unify the belts when he takes on Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 this weekend. “The Eagle” has kept a close eye on Poirier throughout the years but was still surprised that he was able to outpoint Holloway.
“I follow him for a long time,” Nurmagomedov said in a recent interview with Brett Okamoto from ESPN. “Me and him, I think we come to UFC in the same year, 2012 or something like this. When he moved to lightweight, he beat a couple of good guys, and I think about him… I think we’re going to fight in the future.
“Last fight, when he fight with Max Holloway, honestly, he surprised me when he win. Honestly, I think Max Holloway was going to beat him. He [Poirier] showed good skills, good heart, and right now we’re going to fight. He impressed me with his boxing. I think that Max was going to use his reach and his boxing, footwork, kicks, but it was very, very close fight. And I think he win because of his damage. He gave him a little bit more damage. That’s why he win. I think 55/45 he win this fight.”
While Nurmagomedov was impressed with Poirier’s boxing ability, he still feels the American Top Team standout is yet to face anyone with his wrestling credentials.
“He impressed me with his boxing, but I think the difference between all his opponents and me, like Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Jim Miller, all of these guys, nobody can wrestle like me,” Nurmagomedov explained. “I’m going to put pressure, like very good pressure. He’s going to have to wrestle with me for 25 minutes.
“With these guys, he just kickbox with them. With me, he has to wrestle. He has to be ready for this. I don’t think he’s ready for this. He’s not like a great knockout artist, he’s good at his boxing, but even if he catches me with a kick, knee, or punch or something, I’m going to keep going. He has to be ready for 25 minutes. I’m going to give him really good pressure.”
UFC 242 takes place at The Arena in Abu Dhabi on September 7. The PPV main card streams on ESPN+ in the United States from 2 pm ET.