Interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier is headed for the biggest fight of his career when he battles undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov in the featured bout of September’s UFC 242 from Abu Dhabi.
‘The Diamond’ brings arguably the most momentum he’s ever had into the fight. Poirier has won four straight fights over top names Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, and Anthony Pettis. His most recent fight was perhaps his crowning achievement because of how effective he was. Battering featherweight champion Holloway over the course of five rounds at April’s UFC 236, he secured his first UFC title in wholly impressive fashion.
A Mutual Respect
But he’ll be met with a task of a largely different variety when he meets the undefeated ‘Eagle’ for the belt in less than three months. He thinks he’ll become the greatest lightweight in MMA history if he emerges victorious due to Khabib’s status. Promotion for the bout has ramped up in recent weeks, with the event’s first presser going down in London last week. Poirier appeared on “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” to discuss his first faceoff with Khabib:
“You know Ariel, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I don’t really take a whole lot from staredowns, or confrontations, or talking with people. But it was smooth, I felt like he had a lot of respect, and that was pretty much it, man.”
Helwani therefore suggested Khabib wasn’t looking past Poirier in any way, shape, or form, something ‘The Diamond’ agreed with:
“Yeah. I think he knows the type of fighter I am. And he knows the way I push myself and would do anything for the victory, so he knows he’s got a test ahead of him.”
Adjusting His Camp
Poirier was then asked if he was changing his training camp for Khabib. He admitted he would in the obvious areas of grappling and wrestling:
“Every training camp is tough. This one’s just going to be some different areas we haven’t really had to focus on; not that we’ve ignored these areas in the wrestling or mat grappling department, it’s just been different fights. My last two fights have just been different preparation. We aren’t going to switch a whole lot up, but we’re definitely going to be doing a lot more mat grappling and putting myself in uncomfortable positions with some bigger guys.
“I’m excited about it, man. These are the camps and fights you grow from. And that’s what I’m all about, man, is improving.”
New Weapons To Prepare
With a momentous task ahead of him, Poirier revealed one of the weapons he was bringing into his camp to train for Nurmagomedov. The fighter was Sidney Outlaw, who’s won seven straight in regional promotions thanks to his elite submission skills:
“We have a few great wrestlers already on the team, but we will bring in a few more guys. One guy from Philadelphia, guy named Sidney Outlaw. I went to Florida a few weeks ago and did a week of training just to stay sharp and stay honest. And he was in helping some guys. And I really felt like we meshed well. I think he’s a Renzo Gracie black belt.
“But his level of wrestling and putting his jiu-jitsu together with his wrestling was incredible. He’s a decently sized guy. Very good technique. And we’ve asked him to come back again for me. I just felt really good with him.”
A Bold Prediction
The interim champ then expanded further on more weapons he’ll be bringing in. One of them was is recently retired Muhammad Lawal. ‘King Mo’ has trained with Khabib at American Kickboxing Academy. He even predicted Poirier would eventually be the man to finally beat him:
“Of course, (Steve) Mocco will, as well as Muhammad Lawal. ‘King Mo’s’ going to be part of this camp. And I’m excited about it – ‘King Mo’ has experience with Khabib but also a lot of experience with world-class grappling and wrestling.
“Yeah. But what’s crazy about this whole thing coming full circle is probably about four or five years ago, ‘King Mo’ told me, he said, ‘Dustin, I’m telling you, you’re going to be the one to beat Khabib.’ And this was years, years, and years ago when I wasn’t even in the position to talk about fighting the guy.”
Asked what ‘King Mo’ saw in him to say that, Poirier closed with a short, forceful statement:
“Because I’m the best in the world, Ariel. Why do you think?”
Do you think Poirier’s training camp weapons will help propel him to an upset of Khabib at UFC 242?