After Dustin Poirier beat Max Holloway at UFC 236 to win the interim lightweight title, all signs pointed towards him fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov later in the year. Then, when the UFC announced they are heading to Abu Dhabi on September 7, it was assumed that was the plan, which was confirmed by Dana White.
Speaking on MMA Junkie Radio, Poirier confirmed that UFC 242 is the plan, but isn’t sure why there aren’t any contracts or what the holdup is.
“Everything is pointing to it happening in Abu Dhabi, September 7, me and Khabib,” Poirier said. “I’m not sure what the holdup is or what’s going on. I have no clue.”
Meanwhile, if Poirier does indeed have to fight Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi, he knows it will be a challenge. The champ is Muslim and understands the fans will be rooting against him. However, as the title challenger, Poirier understands he needs to do what the UFC wants, even if that includes fighting in hostile territory. Then, if he wins, he knows he can then call the shots of where he fights.
“That’s a big challenge to go over there,” he said. “[He’s] probably one of the biggest Muslim stars — sports stars for sure, I mean I don’t know any other ones right off the bat. To go out there in enemy territory and fight their guy is going to be a huge challenge. That’s what you sign up for. He’s the champ and I can’t say anything about it.
“When I beat him and I defend it I can try to nudge the UFC and say hey let’s do it here or do it there, but I’m the challenger and I understand that role. I’ve got a long climb to go over there and pull off the upset.”
Ultimately, Khabib Nurmagomedov is 27-0, but Dustin Poirier is confident he will leave Abu Dhabi with the undisputed belt.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime