UFC lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov said he would rematch his biggest rival, Conor “Notorious” McGregor, but there’s one big catch. The Eagle recently participated in a press conference in Russia to promote his fight with interim lightweight champion Justin “The Highlight “Gaethje in October when he revealed his condition.
During the presser, Khabib said McGregor needed to come back and defeat No. 2 ranked lightweight Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier if he wanted the chance to fight Khabib again. He said (transcribed by RT), “Let him come back [and] defeat Dustin Poirier, then we will fight with him — no problem.”
A fight between Notorious, who is ranked No. 4 at lightweight, and Poirier makes a lot of sense. Both men are coming off of a victory and fans have been anticipating a rematch between the two fighters for years. The Diamond and McGregor fought in the featherweight division in September 2014 and Notorious won by first-round TKO. However, Poirier moved up to the lightweight division after that loss and has gone 10-2 with one no contest, and many believe that lightweight is his natural weight class.
Poirier is 5-1 in his last six bouts, defeating the likes of Gaethje, former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and No. 5 ranked Dan Hooker. The Diamond’s sole loss in his current fight stretch is to Khabib in September 2019.
Although Notorious has not competed at lightweight since losing to Khabib in October 2018, he is still recognized as a top-tier competitor in the division. McGregor has fought once since that loss, defeating Donald Cerrone at welterweight in January.
As many fans know, McGregor is currently retired from the sport, and Poirier has been linked to No. 3 ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson for a clash.
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Khabib Said McGregor Is a Better Striker Than Gaethje
Khabib and Gaethje are scheduled to unify the lightweight title on October 24. Khabib has not defended the belt since his September 2019 victory over Poirier, and Gaethje won the interim belt in May when he defeated Ferguson by fifth-round TKO.
Gaethje is regarded as one of the biggest threats The Eagle has ever faced due to his world-class wrestling and vicious striking prowess. However, Khabib believes he has already defeated a better strike than The Highlight.
During the press conference, Khabib compared McGregor’s standup abilities to Gaethjes. The UFC lightweight champion said:
Before the fight with [Edson] Barbosa, they said that he was my most uncomfortable rival, then they said the same thing before the fight with Conor, then with [Dustin] Poirier. They didn’t have time to say that about Iaquinta, because they gave me a fight in a few hours. I am sympathetic to this, but journalists need to say something, to warm up their interest in battle. But I kind of agree that Gaethje is a very good fighter, if he was bad he would not have fought for the belt. Is he better standing than Conor? I think no. My fighting IQ tells me that Conor is better in standing than Gaethje.