Khabib names ‘big legacy’ fights he needs for pound-for-pound greatness
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has named the fights he needs to ensure pound-for-pound greatness in the sport - and any MMA fans hoping for a rematch with Irish megastar Conor McGregor will be left disappointed.
The undefeated Russian is preparing to face interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on September 7, and ahead of that the pair met at a press conference in London.
Nurmagomedov, who stands 27-0 in professional MMA, was asked which fights he needs in addition to Poirier to secure his legacy as an all-time great of the sport, amid talk his latest contract with the UFC contains a clause on a potential showdown with recently-retired Canadian legend Georges St-Pierre.
“Honestly, I don’t know if he [GSP] will come back,” Nurmagomedov said in London.
“If I wanna make my legacy big, I have to beat [Tony] Ferguson and GSP, then I can become pound-for-pound number one,” he added.
Ferguson returned to the octagon with a TKO win over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 238 at the weekend – the 35-year-old American’s 12th straight victory.Also on rt.com 'Tiramisu needs an ass-whooping': Tony Ferguson takes aim at Khabib following UFC 238 win (VIDEO)
Despite being asked about his legacy plans, the Dagestani fighter insisted however that he was not looking beyond Poirier and Abu Dhabi in September.
“I don’t want to underestimate Dustin, he’s a tough challenge, right now I don’t want to think about other opponents,” Nurmagomedov said.
One fighter the Russian said he was not in a hurry to face was Conor McGregor, whom he comprehensively defeated last time out in Las Vegas in October.
The post-fight melee that marred that bout led to Nurmagomedov being hit with a fine and nine-month suspension, with the fight against Poirier his first action since then.
When asked whether he would run things back with McGregor, Nurmagomedov said: “In the last three years, he only has one victory in amateur boxing.
“How does he deserve rematch? He tapped, he begged me, ‘please don’t kill me.’ Tony Ferguson is on the line, guys with a win streak are on the line, not a guy who didn’t do nothing in three years.”
The respectful atmosphere between Nurmagomedov and Poirier in London on Wednesday was a fry cry from the toxic scenes present in the buildup to the Russian’s fight against McGregor.
The ‘Diamond’, who stands at 25-5 in his pro career and beat featherweight king Max Holloway in his last outing, nonetheless vowed to take his opponent to “places he’s never been to” when they meet in the octagon.
“Experience, self-belief, my mindset, I’m focused on making history,” Poirier replied when asked what made him different to Nurmagomedov’s 27 past victims.
“I don’t need to find huge holes [in his game], the guy’s good, he’s the world champ, but I’m going to make things happen and bring him to places he’s never been to.
"I’ve learned I can count on myself. Adversity introduces a man to himself, I’m well acquainted and I’m ready to rock,” he said.