Khabib Nurmagomedov respects Dustin Poirier but plans to 'maul him' in their unification title match

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to have his next fight lined-up, and it won't be a rematch against Conor McGregor.

A second fight against the 'Notorious' would probably smash box office records but now 'The Eagle' has a division to unify.

It was originally thought that Khabib would sit out until November in a show of solidarity to his brother and Zubaira Tukhagov, who both received one-year suspensions for their part in the UFC 229 aftermath.

Nurmagomedov himself was given a nine-month ban, reduced to six if he took part in an anti-bullying campaign but he refused to do so, citing the state of Nevada's laws as his reason for refusal.

So now his ban expires in July, but will wait until September to try and unify the lightweight division.

Dustin Poirier defeated featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim lightweight strap last week at UFC 236, and Khabib is keen on that being his return fight.

Details are being worked on and the Russian was very complimentary of Poirier's performance against 'Blessed'.

“I think it was very good performance from Dustin Poirier,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN following the event, per MMA Junkie.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to return to action in September to try and unify the lightweight division

“Honestly, before fight I think Holloway going to beat him. This is my prediction when you talk with friends, with father, with team, but he impressed me. Dustin has impressed me.

"I think he has very good boxing, much better than before. Every fight he becomes stronger, better in boxing on his feet.

And Khabib is much more respectful towards Poirier than he was Conor McGregor, but then again that's because the American has not insulted him - yet.

Dustin Poirier is the interim champion and will have the lofty task of trying to defeat Khabib

“He have very good background, he have good ground game – not bad – he have good striking game," Khabib continued.

“I follow him long time and versus me – I think I have to maul him like I do with everybody. This is what I have to do. I respect him like fighter, like human, but when we go to the cage, I have to maul this guy.

"This is what I want, and right now I am focused on September. Five months before fight, and I think it’s going to be really good fight with him.”

There's no doubting that when it comes down to it, Khabib may do what he's done to everyone that's crossed him inside the Octagon, and that's systematically break them down.

But we may get a shock on the cards, and you'll get big odds for that to actually happen against Poirier.

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