Dustin Poirier would prefer a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov over a rematch with Conor McGregor, even if there was no UFC title on the line.
Poirier fought McGregor in the featherweight division in 2014, losing via first-round knockout. Years later, after establishing himself as one of the greatest lightweights of his era, he battled Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, losing via third-round submission.
While McGregor remains the biggest star in MMA, Poirier says he’d still prefer a second shot at Nurmagomedov, even if Nurmagomedov’s title wasn’t on the line. Poirier points to the fact that the Russian star has never been beaten in 28 professional fights.
“If the belts weren’t on the line, just for my legacy, I would love to beat Khabib,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “Nobody’s ever beat him. Nobody’s ever climbed that mountain. I would love to be the first one. That’s historic. That’s legendary. That’s the stuff I’m out to do. I’m not out for rematches and grudge matches and revenge. I’m a grown man, I don’t hold that stuff in my heart. I have a family and this is a business to me.
“When I was younger, I might have wanted to fight Conor or fight anybody who beat me. But I’m just comfortable with everything,” Poirier added. “I’m comfortable with my record, with the stuff that I’ve done, the fights I’ve done. The fights that I’ve lost, I learned my lessons and tried to keep moving forward. So I’d really like to be the first one to beat Khabib.”
While Poirier would rather rematch Nurmagomedov than McGregor, he recently pointed to his loss to McGregor as a crucial moment in his evolution as a fighter.
“It definitely started happening after the Conor McGregor loss,” Poirier told ESPN of his evolution into one of the game’s best fighters. “That was the start of it. It’s been a long process, being a father, losing again, winning some and losing again, and winning another one. It’s just a long evolution of stop caring so much. You just stop caring about the noise and stuff that doesn’t matter…
“A lot of times in my younger career, I felt like it was life or death,” Poirier added. “Every comment on Instagram and Twitter, every journalist who said something, I felt like everybody was against me. I felt like if I lost I would be written off, it’s the end of my career. I’m a bum if I lose this fight. And then you lose a few times and you’re like, ‘Oh sh*t, I can still put this back together. Oh man, I’m still providing for my family. I’m still loving what I do.’ It’s like you’ve been bent but not broken a lot of times and I feel like it made me stronger and it made me the man I am today. I’m happy. I’m genuinely happy.”
Do you think Dustin Poirier will earn a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the future?