Khabib Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title and maintained his undefeated record with a third-round submission victory against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday (Saturday in the Eastern time zone).
The UFC's No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter, who Caesars Palace once listed as a massive -430 favorite (bet $430 to win $100), took care of business to move to 28-0 and earn his second successful title defense. His 12-match winning streak is tied for sixth in the promotion's history.
Poirier fell to 25-6 with one no-contest.
Per UFC Stats, Khabib dominated for nearly the entire fight, landing 22 significant strikes to Poirier's 12 and earning seven takedowns to the challenger's zero.
Alexander K. Lee of MMA Fighting scored the fight 10-8, 10-9 in Khabib's favor over the first two rounds. Khabib was particularly impressive in the first round thanks to his patented mauling display near its end:
Poirier did get in a good shot with the two on their feet in the second round:
He also nearly came through with the win thanks to a guillotine that Khabib credited post-match:
However, the undefeated champion proved too strong in the third, applying a rear-naked choke for the win.
ESPN's Ariel Helwani gave shining compliments to Khabib afterwards:
After the match, the two fighters embraced, and Khabib even promoted Poirier's charity work:
That ending proved to be the polar opposite in the aftermath of Khabib's last victory.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended the champion for nine months retroactive to October 2018 after he jumped into the crowd and attacked Conor McGregor's entourage following a submission win at UFC 229.
The ugly incident is part of a long-standing feud between the two fighters and their camps that has included a litany of insults and numerous altercations.
Khabib didn't look rusty after the long layoff, however, winning his 28th professional bout in 28 tries. He now has 18 submission or knockout wins, and none of his bouts have gone to split decision.
As for Poirier, the challenger's well-deserved title opportunity followed a dominant two-year period in which he went 5-0 (with one no-contest), earning two TKOs. Victories included wins over current UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.
The 30-year-old was ranked as UFC's No. 8 pound-for-pound fighter heading into the night and its No. 1 contender for the lightweight belt.
"I have to fight for the title shot," Ferguson said last Tuesday on ESPN (h/t Steven Marrocco of MMAjunkie). "That's where I'm going. The winner of this next fight is going to come up."
Ferguson, the former UFC interim lightweight champion, has won his last 12 professional bouts and 18 of his past 19 dating back to 2009. The 35-year-old's interim title was stripped after he suffered a fibular collateral ligament tear six days before he was scheduled to face Khabib in April 2018.
He has won 20 of his 25 matches via knockout or submission.