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Khabib: Dustin Poirier 'Deserves to Be a Champion' After Conor McGregor Victory

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2021

UFC fighter Dustin Poirier of Lafayette, Louisiana, gestures during an open training session at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Fighters Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov will face each other in UFC 242, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Jon Gambrell/Associated Press

Khabib Nurmagomedov wasn't very impressed by Dustin Poirier's fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 257, but he thinks Poirier's win should be enough to make him the new lightweight champion.

The Russian broke down his view to Match TV (h/t Brett Okamoto of ESPN):

"I wouldn't say Poirier and McGregor disappointed me. They showed nothing supernatural. I fought with Poirier, nothing special. It's the same with Conor. I believe that now Poirier deserves to be a champion. That's my opinion. Look at the fighters he's fought: Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. These are all top fighters and they could end up in the UFC's Hall of Fame."

Nurmagomedov is the current champion and still ranked as the top pound-for-pound fighter in UFC, but he announced his retirement in October after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

There was some speculation Khabib could return to face the winner of Poirier and McGregor, but Dana White indicated there was no interest.

"I did talk to Khabib. And he said to me, 'Dana, be honest with yourself. I'm so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys,'" White told reporters after UFC 257. "I don't know. But it doesn't sound very positive. We'll see."

It appears the 32-year-old will remain retired with a 29-0 record.

Poirier would likely get the first shot at the 155-pound title once it is officially vacated since he is the No. 1 challenger in the current rankings.

The 32-year-old previously won the interim lightweight championship in 2019 with a win over Max Holloway but less than five months later lost to Nurmagomedov. The Louisiana native responded with a win over Dan Hooker and a convincing knockout against McGregor on Jan. 24.

With a knockout victory over Gaethje in 2018 also on his resume, there are few with a better claim to the next title.

The red-hot Charles Oliviera, the division's No. 3 contender, could also get a shot after eight straight wins, while a trilogy bout against McGregor is also a possibility for Poirier. Nate Diaz listed Poirier as a potential option for his next fight but told ESPN's Ariel Helwani he doesn't want to compete in the lightweight division.