UFC 264: Khabib Nurmagomedov makes his Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier prediction

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Recently retired UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov believes Conor McGregor needs to end his fight against Dustin Poirier in the first round – or face defeat again.

McGregor and Poirier clash again for a third time on July 10 at UFC 264 in Las Vegas, with both men holding a knockout victory over the other in the first two fights.

Speaking to UFC Russia, the unbeaten Khabib backed the Irishman to win within five minutes, but thinks Poirier has more chance if the fight goes beyond one round.

He said: “It’s the same thing as the previous fight. If it’s a first round finish, I’d back Conor. From the second and further, then Dustin wins.”

The Russian – who retired in March with a record of 29-0 with eight knockouts – has submission victories over both McGregor and Poirier, so he knows a thing or two about their game plans and skillsets.

He memorably scaled the Octagon at UFC 229 after defeating McGregor to attack his cornerman Dillon Danis, who had reportedly shouted insults at Khabib following the fight.

The Russian has turned to promoting following his retirement and is mentoring fellow lightweight Islam Makhachev – currently ranked #9 in the UFC rankings.

Makhachev, 29, is due to fight Brazil’s Thiago Moises in the headline bout of UFC on ESPN 26 on July 17, and Khabib is keen to see his man progress through the competitive division.

Charles Oliveira currently leads the division having beaten Michael Chandler for the vacant title in May.

“There are many fighters at the top of the rankings who haven’t won anything for a long time now,” Khabib said.

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“If Islam wins in July, he will have eight wins in a row and he will keep moving forward.

“There’s such a nice composition to the division; not only the Russians, but also the Brazilians – Oliveira or Rafael Dos Anjos.

“The Americans are also well-represented in the division; Poirier, Gaethje and Chandler. It’s going to be fun; like the World War… the Russians, the Americans and the Brazilians.

“This division has always been interesting and difficult so it will be fun by the end of this year,” he concluded.

Khabib relinquished the lightweight title in January and subsequently formally retired in March, making good on a promise to his mother following the death of his father.

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He first announced his intention to retire following his win over Justin Gaethje last October. His father and trainer Abdulmanap died in July after contracting COVID-19 and being placed in a medically induced coma after heart surgery. 

The 32-year-old admitted he missed fighting, but will not return without his mother’s blessing.

His coach Javier Mendez, however, thinks he won’t step inside the Octagon again.

Speaking to Betway Inside, as per The Mirror,, Mendez said: “I guess you could say he wants to fight again – but absolutely not because his mother would have to give him permission before any of that. He misses training and coaching.

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“Our relationship is more than fighting, it goes beyond fighting. It’s not a relationship like: ‘Okay I’m done with my career, you know, my coach and I were just distant friends.’ No – we’re family, we grew with each other. They’re family to me and we’ll be in each other’s lives for the rest of our lives.

“He loves the fighting, the energy, and he loves watching his cousins and his teammates perform. He gets nervous for them. When we went to the last fight and his cousin Abubakar was ready to fight, he just got all energised and he said ‘I miss this feeling.’

“It’s a feeling that he’s going to miss for a while because of that adrenaline you get from entering that Octagon, with all those people cheering you on. It’s hard to replace that in normal life because normal life is not like that,” he said.

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