Khabib Nurmagomedov Wants Pound-for-Pound Recognition? It Comes via Tony Ferguson

Dustin Poirier knew what was waiting for him in the cage on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi. He knew which takedowns Khabib Nurmagomedov would attempt and what the Dagestani would do if he got into a dominant position. He knew the fate of the 27 men who’d come before him.

“The Diamond” studiously and painstakingly stocked his defensive arsenal, drilled his sprawl and doubled down on his visualisation. Saturday night was the culmination of over a decade’s work for the 30-year old; it was his destiny, he told us, to march into enemy territory against the sport’s most dominant and vexing force, flatten him with a punch or a jumping guillotine choke, then roll out of there the undisputed champion.

After two rounds with Nurmagomedov, Poirier’s resolve was wilting. “The Eagle” had spent the better part of 10 minutes wearing him down from top position, and Porier returned to his corner in a state of frustration, remarking to his coaches “I can’t get the f–cker off me”. One hundred and twenty six seconds later, he submitted to a rear-naked choke.

Nurmagomedov is once again the undisputed champion, and has been victorious in each of his 12 fights in the UFC. Of the 35 rounds he’s spent in the octagon, he’s won 34 on the scorecards, the lone exception a close third stanza at UFC 229 last October against Conor McGregor. In the cage on Saturday night, from the moment Khabib grabbed Poirier’s left leg in the opening 90 seconds, a dominant victory felt like a foregone conclusion, and in the aftermath we’re left wondering if there’s anyone out there with a skillset capable of giving him problems.

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