'I'm going to make the decision': Khabib says McGregor MUST face Poirier at lightweight to stand any chance of rematch
McGregor – who announced his retirement from fighting for the third time in June – is set to return to the UFC to fight Poirier on January 23.
UFC lightweight champion Khabib told the 'Real Quick With Mike Swick' podcast: “If he beats [Poirier] at 155 [pounds], it makes sense, but if they fight at 170, how can you fight at 170 and next fight you can fight at 155? They want to make everything easy.”Also on rt.com 'Of course Khabib is going to win': Cristiano Ronaldo backs his 'brother' Khabib Nurmagomedov to defend title at UFC 254 (VIDEO)
The Russian defended his lightweight belt against McGregor when they fought in 2018, and did so again when he fought interim lightweight champion Poirier in September last year.
“Remember, before I fought [McGregor], I told him, ‘I’m going to make you humble, and I’m going to put you in line,’” Nurmagomedov added. “Now, after two years, people understand my word. I’m going to put him in line, and I’m going to make the decision. If he fights 170, bye-bye.”
Poirier became the interim champion at 155lbs after Nurmagomedov was banned for nine months for his part in a brawl that broke out following his win over McGregor at UFC 229.
Moments after he forced the Irishman into a fourth-round submission, ‘The Eagle’ climbed out of the Octagon and attacked one of McGregor’s cornermen, Dillon Danis.
McGregor – who was banned for six months – scuffled with Khabib’s cousin Abubakar and his cornermen Zubaira Tukhugov and Esed Emiragaev inside the Octagon.
The 32-year-old has added fuel to the fire ahead of a potential rematch with Nurmagomedov by making reference to the brawl on Twitter:
Ye, not a scratch. Relaxing before I bounced up and bet his brother and his cousin round. https://t.co/lwlFpof4dD— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 20, 2020
He also gave his thoughts on the fight, suggesting he had largely been on top in the bout prior to the submission:
On the mula! Round 1’s mine. Out struck 3-1. Elbow,knees,clatters! He held on. 2s his but I land multiple knees. One from standing after the overhand, and one from bottom into the eye socket at kimura attempt. Not a scratch end of round also. I won round 3, and 4 until the trip. https://t.co/0B6T7CbHJO— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 19, 2020
Damage! Back hands forced him to the fence. Knee into neck as he shot, after 15 seconds of opening bell. Heavy elbow right into his temple as he froze after his shot. Repeated clatters to the temple while he tries his mermaid wrap leg. Rd was 1 pitiful from him. Rd 2 saved him. https://t.co/Pu39GeE4kQ— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 19, 2020
McGregor and Poirier have fought before, when the former beat the latter in a featherweight clash back in 2014 via a first-round TKO.
The Irishman’s most recent appearance in the Octagon – against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in January – came at welterweight, but each of Poirier’s last 11 fights have been at lightweight, so a fight between them at 155lbs seemed the most likely scenario even before a lucrative rematch with Khabib became conditional on it.
As for the fighter from Dagestan, he’ll seek to defend his belt again on Saturday at UFC 254 against Justin Gaethje, who won the interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson in May.Also on rt.com 'Unlucky lads': Conor McGregor reignites Khabib feud as he shares footage of infamous UFC 229 post-fight brawl (VIDEO)