Where there are no holes, create some, appears to be Dustin Poirier’s approach to fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242.
At Wednesday’s UFC 242 press conference in London, England, interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier addressed the question nearly everyone has been asking when it comes to Khabib Nurmagomedov. In short, how do you defeat someone who has, to this point in his career, been practically flawless?
The 27-0 champ has been a dominant force since entering the UFC, and no one has really come close to defeating ‘The Eagle.’ Which means Poirier, who captured interim lightweight gold earlier this year against Max Holloway, has a daunting task in front of him.
Does Khabib have holes in his game that ‘The Diamond’ can exploit? Poirier, for his part, doesn’t necessarily think that matters. Because he believes that he can create holes in the champ’s game.
The key to success, he said Wednesday, is to “just be myself. Go out there and show the world what I’m capable of. Like you said, 27 have tried, and 27 have failed.” Poirier is looking to avoid becoming victim number 28.
To this point, he said, “a lot of people have been asking me questions like ‘[where] do I see weaknesses in Khabib’s game?’ or ‘where do I think he makes mistakes?'”
“I’ve kind of been sitting back, talking to my coaches and thinking about this, and I don’t really need him to be weak for me to be strong,” Poirier continued. “I don’t need huge glaring holes. I’m going to create them with my pressure, my fight IQ, my experience and the amount of rounds and years that I’ve been doing this.”
“It’s going to be a very high level fight,” he added. “You’ve got two guys on the pound-for-pound list, one of them is undefeated, both of them are champions. Two champions are going in, one champion’s coming out. This is going to be a huge fight, I’m excited about it, and I’ll make this openings that we’re talking about.”
“Experience, self-belief, my mindset. I’m focused on making history, and that’s all I care about. That’s what the next 11 weeks of my life are going to be,” Poirier later stated when asked what will make him be the one to defeat the champ. “To prepare for 25 minutes, to do whatever I have to do to get my hand raised.”
“I don’t need to find huge holes,” Poirier reiterated. “The guys good. I can’t sit up here and say anything bad about the guy. He’s good. He’s the world champ. But I’m going to make things happen in there, and bring him to places he’s never been in there.”
If Poirier is successful, he’ll become the first man to defeat Nurmagomedov since the Dagestani began his pro career in 2008. He’ll also have unified the lightweight title. We’ll have to wait to September to find out if he’s up to the task, however. UFC 242 takes place September 7, 2019 in Abu Dhabi.