On Saturday night, in the main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, Dustin Poirier will attempt to become the first man to defeat UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. In order to do so, he’ll have to thwart Nurmagomedov’s stifling ground game.
Poirier’s coach, Mike Brown, believes this can be done. Brown has recently helped several of Poirier’s fellow American Top Team fighters prepare for grapplers not unlike Nurmagomedov. He prepped Kyoji Horiguchi for his two battles with Darrion Caldwell, and he helped Jorge Masvidal get ready for Ben Askren, and all of those fights went American Top Team’s way.
Brown is confident this will also be the case when Poirier fights Nurmagomedov. Poirier simply needs to focus on his strengths, and force the champ to adapt.
“It’s a strong wrestling style with great conditioning, but we’ve seen similar styles in different weight classes, like Kyoji Horiguchi and Darrion Caldwell and Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren. These are all very recent fights and all the fights were different, but it was that strong wrestling style that they were fighting,” Brown told MMA Fighting.
“Of course, you’re going to want to stay out of some troublesome areas, but you don’t want to abandon what got you to the dance—you’ve got to get him to adjust to you,” Brown added. “Of course you have to be ready for some of his strengths and you can get ready for that because you’re going to be working on your wrestling defense and your standups, but you don’t want to stray too far from what got you there. You be you and make him adjust to your game.”
Needless to say, Brown is confident Poirier can defeat Nurmagomedov. Poirier, of course, shares that confidence.
“He knows what he’s capable of,” Brown said of Poirier. “He’s confident in his abilities. He doesn’t need someone else to tell him how good he is. We know how good he is, so it won’t be a surprise to us. We know what he’s capable of and so does he, and that’s all that really matters. He’ll be confident and he’ll be able to go hard for 25 minutes. I don’t think a lot of guys have been able to do that [against Khabib] and I think it’s one of Dustin’s best attributes, his conditioning and his mental will.”
Do you think Dustin Poirier can hand Khabib Nurmagomedov his first loss this weekend at UFC 242?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/6/2019.