Dustin Poirier understands that Khabib Nurmagomedov is officially the UFC’s lightweight champ, but “The Diamond” didn’t get the title fight feeling last week, while watching UFC 223.
Nurmagomedov laid claim to the vacant, 155 title last Saturday night, by working his way to a clear cut, decision win over Al Iaquinta. Initially, the grappling demi-god was supposed to fight interim champ, Tony Ferguson, but he went down with a knee injury, and Max Holloway stepped up. The featherweight champ was declared medically unfit to compete, while trying to make weight, and Iaquinta was tapped for the bout.
Well, in advance of Poirier’s bout tonight with Justin Gaethje, the lightweight contender had this to say about last weekend’s championship fight (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“He is the champion; he has the belt,” Poirier said. “But I don’t feel that was a championship fight.”
“Nothing against either guy,” Poirier added. “Khabib was on the way and earned himself the spot to get that title shot. But that fight, to me, didn’t feel like a title fight.”
Now, even if the biggest Nurmagomedov fans have to agree that Poirier’s onto something here. Yes, “The Eagle” was scheduled to fight for the 155 title, and yes, on account of his abilities and a 26-0 record, no can deny that Nurmagomedov’s an outstanding, outstanding fighter.
But, while Iaquinta is ridiculously tough, and is a legitimate force in the lightweight division, he wasn’t knocking on the title shot door, prior to UFC 223. So, did the fight really have that championship feel? Especially when you consider that Iauqinta came in at 155.2 for the bout, wasn’t officially in line to win the title?
All this aside, Poirier is hoping to score a win over the former WSOF champ, Gaethje, and move into title contention himself. According to Poirier, he sees tonight’s bout as the “#1 contender fight”. Depending on what happens with Ferguson, on account of the fact “El Cucuy’s” undergone knee surgery, Poirier could be right.
UFC on FOX 29 will take place in Glendale, Arizona.