Lightweight champion returns to the octagon after an 11-month absence to face Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi.
Undefeated mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to return to action after almost a year away from competition, headlining the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) 242 card in the United Arab Emirates.
Nurmagomedov, a supreme grappler hailing from Russia’s Dagestan province, will face underdog Dustin Poirier, from Louisiana in the United States, in a highly anticipated lightweight title unification match held on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
It will be the UFC’s third-ever show in the UAE and Nurmagomedov‘s first outing since beating Irishman Conor McGregor in October last year, in the promotion’s most-watched event that ended with a post-fight brawl earning the Dagestani fighter a nine-month suspension and a $500,000 fine.
“My last fight, it was a little bit crazy and tough fight,” Nurmagomedov
The UFC is returning to Yas Island to showcase Nurmagomedov to audiences outside the promotion’s North American wheelhouse. The 30-year-old, who became a champion in April last year after beating Al Iaquint,a has not fought outside the US since 2013.
“All the time when I fight in UFC, I didn’t have almost 100 percent support in the stadium,” Nurmagomedov said.
“A lot of people are going to come from USSR countries, Russia, from Dagestan, from the Arabic countries. A lot of people are going to come support me.”
Nurmagomedov is a significant favourite against Poirier, and while he is wary of the interim champion’s striking to go with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he appears to retain the confidence of a career without a defeat
“When I watch Dustin Poirier, I think it’s going to be my toughest challenge,” Nurmagomedov said.
“I always think like this. I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t want to underestimate any guy.”