At UFC 242, Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his lightweight championship against Dustin Poirier, and thus far, both combatants have shown one another nothing but respect ahead of the clash. This is a far cry from Khabib’s last fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 229, which was arguably the most volatile build-up to a fight in the history of the promotion. Khabib had a lot of motivation to punish McGregor for his words ahead of their title fight last October, but his motivation remains unchanged against a respectful opponent like Dustin Poirier (Translation/Interview via RT Sport):
“It’s not really necessary to have a verbal conflict to be motivated,” Nurmagomedov told RT Sport. “Motivation can be sporting, and I have that. Why not? When you go there and compete with a rival, it doesn’t matter if it’s a fight, a sports competition, or in a gym, motivation is always there. And I still have it. I’m not a 50-year-old, so I don’t have any problems with motivation. Whether I have it or not, you’ll see on September 7.”
Khabib may not be fazed by prefight rhetoric one way or another, but there is something that he admits will serve as a distraction before he enters the Octagon against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi:
“Yes, there will be some distraction,” Nurmagomedov admitted. “When your friends and close ones are fighting, it does distract you. But I hope they’ll give me some positive energy before my fight. Because when your close friends are losing, of course it upsets you. The main thing for them is to motivate me for my victory. We’re hoping only for victory.
“In our team, or any other fighters who enter the Octagon, no one wants to lose. So I hope we’re all going to win.”
UFC 242 takes place September 7, 2019 from du Arena in Abu Dhabi.
What’s your takeaway from Khabib admitting competing alongside teammates and friends at UFC 242 will be a distraction for him?