Current undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov has given his thoughts on the current state of affairs at 155-pounds since his October retirement — and has claimed that past-foe, Dustin Poirier deserves to be crowned the new titleholder.
Nurmagomedov, who is still billed as both the pound-for-pound number-one and the UFC’s undisputed lightweight champion, announced his decision to retire with immediate effect following UFC 254 in October, where he successfully unified the championships with a second round triangle win over Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Citing a prior promise he had made to his mother following the sad passing of his father and renowned sambo coach, Abdulmanap earlier this year, Nurmagomedov told how he wouldn’t make another professional walk without his father by his side.
In the months since, UFC president, Dana White has openly campaigned for one more Octagon walk from Nurmagomedov, who has time and time again maintained he would honour the promise he had made to his mother.
As recent at January, Nurmagomedov met with White on ‘Fight Island’ to discuss his immediate fighting future, with footage emerging from a UAE Warriors event where White can be seen discussing the possible pay-per-view record-breaking potential of a rematch between the Dagestani and arch-rival, former two-weight world champion, Conor McGregor.
Headlining UFC 257 on January 23rd. and ultimately scuppering those transparent plans, the above mentioned, Poirier avenged a 2014 featherweight knockout loss to McGregor — stopping the Dubliner via second-round strikes.
Speaking with Match TV, Nurmagomedov detailed how he is expected to meet with White for further discussions by the end of February in Las Vegas, and how the promotion is currently planning a lightweight title fight to take place by May or June.
“I know they’re making plans, I think around May or June for a title fight,” Khabib said as per translation from RT Sport. “But between who? Dana (White) told me he isn’t done yet. I can say that. When I told him the lightweight division needs to move on he told me he isn’t done. He said to me, ‘When you fly to (Las) Vegas at the end of the February, we’ll sit down and talk. Dana needs to make some kind of decision. But whatever the decision, I’ll agree with it.“
Laying out UFC 242 foe, Poirier’s hitlist and overall résumé in the UFC, Nurmagomedov claimed the Louisianan deserves to lift lightweight gold.
“(Dustin) Poirier deserves to be champion, that’s my personal opinion,” Nurmagomedov said. “Look at who he’s fought, Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor (McGregor) — these are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.“
While Nurmagomedov remained coy as to who could possibly feature in that May or June title fight, developments late last night seemed to point in the direction of a trilogy, rubber-match meeting of Poirier and McGregor, however, it’s still unknown if the promotion would offer the vacant title to the victor of that proposed matchup.