Khabib: Poirier deserves to be UFC lightweight champ, Dana White wants Las Vegas talks at end of February
Khabib Nurmagomedov says Dustin Poirier deserves to be crowned UFC lightweight king as the retired Russian reiterated that he doesn’t want to hold the division up – but revealed he is set for more talks with Dana White this month.
Khabib is still technically ruler of the lightweight ranks despite showing no sign of reversing the retirement decision he announced after choking out Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi back in October.
Since then several pretenders for the throne have been in action, most recently Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor as they rematched on Fight Island at UFC 257.
Poirier exacted revenge over the Irishman with a crushing second-round knockout, inserting ‘The Diamond’ as frontrunner for gold in a field also counting the likes of Gaethje, Charles Oliviera and Michael Chandler.Also on rt.com McGregor and Poirier ‘agree’ to another rematch – but is the UFC’s pursuit of big-money bouts undermining the sport?
Brazilian Oliveira is on an eight-fight win streak, while former three-time Bellator lightweight king Chandler announced his arrival in the UFC octagon with a spectacular first-round finish of Dan Hooker in their co-main event at UFC 257.
Much of the talk, however, has been about Poirier and McGregor running it back for a third time in what many consider would put money over principles in the 155lbs title mix.
Meanwhile, Khabib appears resolutely out of the picture, having reiterated numerous times that he remains focused on his various business pursuits.
But speaking to Russia’s Match TV, the undefeated Russian did reveal he had recently exchanged messages with UFC boss White – and that talks between the pair are in the offing.
“I’m focused on my own big projects, four or five of them. I have to spend time on them,” said the Dagestani.
“As for my career as a fighter, I don’t want to go into details. Dana’s an honest person, we always had an honest relationship.
“I think he’ll let the media know the message that I sent him a week ago.
“It’s not a secret, I just told him how I’d like things to develop, not only related to me, but the lightweight division in general.
“I told [Dana] I don’t want the division to be held up. But on the other hand, fighters have only just been in action and people already understand in general who we’ll see fighting for the title."Also on rt.com ‘There’s nothing that makes me happier’: UFC star Justin Gaethje ‘loved’ seeing Conor McGregor toppled by Dustin Poirier
“I know they’re already making plans, I think for around May or June for a title fight.
“But between who? Dana told me he isn’t done yet. I can say that. When I told him the lightweight division needs to move on, he told me he isn’t done.
“He said to me, ‘When you fly to Vegas at the end of February, we’ll sit down and talk.’
“Dana needs to make some kind of decision. But whatever the decision, I’ll agree with it.”
Khabib may have placed himself on the outside of the octagon looking in, but added there is a clear candidate who should assume his mantle.
“Poirier deserves to be champion, that’s my personal opinion,” Khabib said of the former interim champion who he submitted in the third round of their contest at UFC 242 in September 2019.
“Look at who he’s fought. Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor – these are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.”
Dana White had teased fight fans last month with the claim that Khabib could return if he saw something “spectacular” among the 155lbs contenders on show at UFC 257.
Khabib admitted that the contests had failed to awaken any renewed hunger, but nonetheless said excitement was in store for the UFC lightweight ranks moving forward this year.
“I think intrigue will appear in the lightweight division as soon as they decide the title fight and eliminator,” said the 32-year-old.Also on rt.com ‘New king in town’: Michael Chandler DESTROYS Dan Hooker inside one round at UFC 257, calls out Khabib
“At the moment, it’s held up and not clear what Dana’s thinking. I think it’s going to be on fire in the lightweight division this summer.
“The lightweight division has always been the most competitive, the most interesting, with big stars.
“It will take new turns this summer… a new, younger, generation is already coming, plus there’s Chandler, Oliviera, Poirier, Gaethje, a lot of good fighters.
“With that mix, it will be interesting this summer and towards the end of the year.”Also on rt.com Band of brothers: The men UFC icon Khabib is bidding to push to the pinnacle of MMA