At long last, undefeated Dagestani lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov finally has a UFC belt wrapped around his waist. He earned that belt last Saturday, when he dominated last-minute replacement opponent Al Iaquinta to a unanimous decision win in the main event of UFC 223. While Nurmagomedov is now the undisputed lightweight champion, however, not everyone is buying his reign. UFC lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, for example, has some issues.
Poirier, who battles Justin Gaethje in the main event of the UFC’s Saturday stop in Glendale, Arizona, shared his gripes with Nurmagomedov’s reign in a chat with MMAJunkie. For him, it all comes down to the fact that Iaquinta hadn’t really earned the title shot in the same way that Nurmagomedov had.
“He is the champion; he has the belt,” Poirier said. “But I don’t feel that was a championship fight.”
“Nothing against either guy,” he added. “Khabib was on the way and earned himself the spot to get that title shot. But that fight, to me, didn’t feel like a title fight.”
Whatever the case, Poirier is hoping that a win over the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Gaethje will earn him a crack at the new champion Nurmagomedov.
“I think this is the No. 1 contender fight,” Poirier said. “We’ll see what happens, but the division’s played itself where this fight matters, a lot.”
In his last fight, Poirier scored a nice win over former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. This win was preceded by a controversial no contest opposite former champ Eddie Alvarez. He’s now 22-5 overall.
Gaethje, meanwhile, recently experienced the first setback of his career, having been knocked out in an wild scrap with Alvarez. This loss was preceded by a perfect, 18-0 start to his MMA career, including an epic victory over Michael Johnson in his UFC debut. He’s now 18-1.
What do you think of Dustin Poirier’s take on the lightweight title situation?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/12/2018.