In just five days, one of the UFC’s most dominant and successful fighters will make his return to the octagon. Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov will defend his UFC Lightweight Championship belt for the first time in almost a year, and he will face the current Interim Lightweight champion, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier. These two veteran fighters will be sure to live up to the hype, and put on one hell of a show for one of the biggest live crowds of the year in Abu Dhabi on September 7th.
For the challenger, Poirier has been on a crazy run in recent years, coming off five straight wins minus a no contest that occurred against Eddie Alvarez back in the summer of 2017. Poirier comes into this fight with a boatload of confidence. He has believed that he has been looked over for too long at this point. “The Diamond” is not satisfied with just being considered an interim champion. He wants the title of undisputed lightweight champion of the world.
Now, in order for Poirier to achieve this accomplishment, he is going to have to trust his grappling defense. He cannot get sucked into one of Khabib’s traps and let the fight go to the ground. In order for Poirier to come out of Abu Dhabi as champion, he has to look for the knockout. His stand-up game is on a different level then Khabib’s, which is proven by 12 of Poirier’s professional victories coming via knockout.
With that being said, there is no other MMA fighter in the world who has better wrestling and grappling skills than Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib’s fighting style can go either two ways: he is either going to take you down and wear you out for the duration of the fight and get a decision victory or he is going to take you down and wear you out until his opponent gives him an opening to lock in a submission and make his opponent tap out.
If Khabib relies on his world-class wrestling and Poirier cannot stay calm and stuff the takedowns, Khabib will stay undefeated. The fact is Khabib has been so dominant for so long now, it’s hard to bet against him. Khabib is so good at tiring out his competitors that when the fight goes into the championship rounds, he can just do whatever he wants at that point.
Poirier will have to connect with a hard shot early in the fight to rock Khabib, then capitalize on it. Poirier has faced some of the top fighters in the UFC in his career, ranging from guys like Anthony Pettis to Max Holloway, but he has never faced someone like Nurmagomedov. This fight is a classic matchup of textbook execution versus unrivaled heart and grit. Whatever happens inside the octagon this Saturday, it will no doubt be a fight people will be talking about for years to come.