MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. Russia’s UFC Reigning Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov rules out all possible contenders for his next fight except for Dustin Poirier of the United States, a spokesman for the Russian fighter’s team told TASS on Tuesday.
"We have only one option and this option is Poirier," the spokesman stated.
Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier defeated over the weekend another American fighter, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway (20 wins, 4 defeats), becoming an interim UFC champion, which means that he is now officially a mandatory challenger for the fight against Russia’s Nurmagomedov.
Poirier, 30, has fought to win 25 bouts (12 by KO/TKO, 7 by submission and 6 by decisions). He also lost five of his previous fights (2 by KO/TKO, 1 by submission and 2 by decisions).
Nurmagomedov currently holds an unblemished record of 27 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 9 by submission and 10 by decision). The next fight of the 30-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed ‘The Eagle’ is scheduled for September 7.
Early this month, Nurmagomedov said speaking with students at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow that he planned to hold a fight on September 7 and then another bout in December.
Nurmagomedov, hailing from Russia’s North Caucasus Region of Dagestan, was the first Russian to win the UFC champion title during the fight against his US opponent Al Iaquinta in the spring of 2018.
On April 8, 2018, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a five-round fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight belt in New York. The Russian fighter went on to defeat his champion’s belt in a fight against Ireland’s Connor McGregor during the UFC 229 tournament in Las Vegas on the night of October 6, 2018, maintaining the title with a choke in the 4th round of the fight.
However, after the fight in Las Vegas last October, a mass brawl broke out between the teams of both fighters, including Nurmagomedov, who jumped out of the cage and attempted to beat up one of the Irish opponent’s team members for insulting him.
Both athletes were slapped later with various sets of sanctions over this incident. A court in the US state of Nevada ordered a nine-month suspension and a fine of $500,000 for Nurmagomedov.