UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has not fought since October of 2018, when he defeated Conor McGregor by decision. For some fighters, a break of this length might cause problems. Nurmagomedov’s next opponent Dustin Poirier, however, expects the champion to be sharp and ready when they step into the cage together.
“I think that’s more of an individual thing,” Poirier said on the UFC 242 conference call last week (via MMA News). “Everybody is different.
Dustin Poirier was given further reason not to suspect ring rust will trouble Nurmagomedov when he watched Nate Diaz return from a three-year absence to beat Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 last month.
“Recently, we’ve seen Nate Diaz come back and beat Anthony Pettis. Anthony’s been pretty active. Nate hasn’t fought in three years. And ring rust is a thing people touch around, a word people touch around, but I think it’s more individualized. It depends how hard you’re working in the gym, and how focused you are, and how ready to compete you are.
“And I believe Khabib’s one of the guys who works year ‘round, he’s always working on his craft, and I think he’s going to be the best he’s ever been September 7th.”
In the time since Khabib Nurmagomedov last fought, Dustin Poirier fought once, defeating UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway by decision in an interim lightweight title fight. He’s currently on a five-fight win-streak composed of wins over Holloway, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, and Jim Miller.
Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet in the main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi this Saturday. Learn how to watch the card here.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/4/2019.