Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to defend his lightweight championship against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on September 7 and, for that reason, Poirier has the full attention of the champion. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he has the full attention of the public. Because while Dustin Poirier is a respected threat to Nurmagomedov’s reign, two names continue to circulate on whom Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend against next, one being Tony Ferguson who picked up his 12th consecutive victory at UFC 238 last weekend, and the other being Conor McGregor, who has not won a UFC fight in years. In what may not be a surprise, Khabib finds one of those two names to be clearly deserving of a title shot and the other to be a subject of confusion as to why he is even being considered (Transcript via ESPN):
“The last three years he has only one victory and amateur boxing. How does he deserve a rematch?” Khabib asked of McGreggor at the UFC 242 press conference. “He tapped. He begged me, ‘Please don’t kill me.’ Now he’s talking about a rematch?”
Khabib Nurmagomedov did indeed defeat Conor McGregor via submission at UFC 229 last October, but is still yet to face Tony Ferguson, who has been running roughshod over the lightweight division along with Nurmagomedov for years:
“Tony Ferguson [is] on the line. People who have win streaks [are] on the line,” Khabib said. “But not the guy who don’t win nothing the last three years. … Right now I’m focused on Sept. 7.”
Nurmagomedov went on to state that if Tony Ferguson had played his cards right, it would have been Ferguson sitting across from him at this press conference, not Poirier, because Ferguson was offered the interim title fight against Max Holloway for UFC 236 prior to Poirier, who would go on to seize that opportunity and the interim title:
“He deserves a title shot, in my opinion,” Khabib said. “But when the UFC asked him to fight Max Holloway, he didn’t take that fight. Right now, the problem is because of him. I don’t know why he didn’t take that fight. He took a regular fight with Cowboy [Cerrone]. I don’t understand this.”
If Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Dustin Poirier, whom do you believe is most likely to receive the next title shot: Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor?