In the main event of Saturday’s UFC 242, Khabib Nurmagomedov will face Dustin Poirier with the lightweight title on the line. The 30-year-old Nurmagomedov — the sport’s dominant force, who is undefeated and unchallenged thus far in his career — hasn’t fought since defeating former champion Conor McGregor in October.
Poirier, the interim champion, is coming off a victory over reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway. Poirier beat Holloway in April in an unanimous decision — and hasn’t lost since 2016. The Louisiana native, 30, will have his work cut out for him inside the Octagon in Abu Dhabi, however. We asked a respected trainer to anonymously break down Poirier, then allowed the fighter to swipe back and respond to his scouting report.
Trainer on Poirier: Dustin needs to back Khabib up and keep him from gaining some momentum by pushing him into the cage.
Poirier: I fight fire with fire. I’m going to do my best to put him in bad positions and make him work.
Trainer: Dustin has really improved as a fighter over the last two years. His switch from featherweight to lightweight [in 2015] has been a part of that.
Poirier: I was just cutting a lot more weight [as a featherweight]. Not being on a diet 365 days a year makes my life more enjoyable. But I have more muscle mass now, so I’m stronger in the clinch and wrestling. And, thanks to not having to cut that weight, I’m a little more durable.
Trainer: One thing Dustin has to do: get at Khabib with his boxing right away. He just can’t get trapped under Khabib on the mat. The person who takes over the first round is going to win the fight.
Poirier: No, I don’t believe [the first round will dictate the fight] at all. Every fight is different. The first round could be one way, and the second round could be a mad scramble. Somebody could get hurt with a punch, a knee. There are lots of ways that the fight can go.
Trainer: Khabib is very, very hard to beat at what he does. He’s the man for a reason right now. Dustin has to start quick.
Poirier: I’d love to create the snowball effect, to where every round gets worse for [Nurmagomedov]. That’s the game plan in every fight.