UFC: Dustin Poirier can shake underdog tag to dethrone Khabib Nurmagomedov

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One of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier will unify the UFC lightweight division in Abu Dhabi.

Dustin Poirier has the skills,and conditioning to shake off the underdog tag and dethrone UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, says his coach Mike Brown.

The pair headline UFC 242 at The Arena in Abu Dhabi this weekend and Brown says he is comfortable with Khabib being a strong favourite for the fight and having the added pressure of rampant local support on his shoulders.

“I like the position of an underdog, and Dustin has been there before and pulled it out many times over. He is confident in his abilities and he is going to be ready on Saturday night.”

Poirier (25-5-1NC) has said he will shock the world, and despite not losing in his last six UFC contests, the undefeated Khabib will offer a challenge the like of which he has not seen before.

With his smothering style, top-class wrestling and ever-improving striking game, Khabib has mauled much of the lightweight division. 27 have tried, and failed to get the better of the Dagestan native, but Brown thinks The Diamond has the attributes to be the man to end the streak – even if the fights goes into Khabib’s domain on the mat.

“He will be very comfortable and confident in his abilities in looking for a submission or getting back to his feet – both are fine,” said Brown, a veteran of 36 professional fights himself and a spearhead of Poirier’s American Top Team. “Khabib also has skills on his feet, so both are well rounded mixed martial arts fighters and I think we will see a lot of everything in this fight.”

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While Poirier may be versed on the floor, it is the striking department in which he looks to have a distinct advantage. The same could have been said of Conor McGregor, Khabib’s last victim, who found success on the feet when they met in October 2018, but was ultimately overrun, and submitted.

That success for McGregor came primarily in the third round of the bout, utilising his left hand and finding a home for it from range – something Poirier has excelled in previously – especially his last win over Max Holloway for the interim crown. Brown says it will be Poirier’s superior conditioning that will allow him to exploit these situations further than McGregor come Saturday night.

“I think the biggest difference is Dustin’s conditioning is some of the best I’ve seen and he is going to be dangerous from round one to round five. From minute one to minute 25 he is going to be powerful and he has the ability to knock you out at any time.”

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