Fighting for legacy: Khabib targets Ferguson, St-Pierre following UFC 242 clash with Poirier
LONDON – Ask Khabib Nurmagomedov what’s motivating him at this stage of his career, and his answer isn’t about the accumulation of titles. Nor is it about the accumulation of wealth.
Instead, the 30-year-old from Dagestan has a clear plan to build a legacy as one of mixed martial art’s all-time pound-for-pound greats.
Nurmagomedov, the reigning UFC lightweight champion, faces interim lightweight champ Dustin Poirier on Sept. 7 at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. And Nurmagomedov said his fight with “The Diamond” was the next step towards attaining the sport’s pound-for-pound No. 1 spot.
Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) mentioned former interim champion Tony Ferguson as a potential future opponent on more than one occasion during Wednesday’s UFC 242 press conference. And he also spoke of his new UFC contract, which reportedly includes a clause that opens up the possibility of fighting all-time great Georges St-Pierre should the Canadian superstar ever decide to come out of retirement.
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Video: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier first faceoff at UFC 242 news conference
Speaking about a possible superfight with GSP, Nurmagomedov said: “Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s going to come back or not. But I want to make my legacy big.
“If I want to improve my legacy, I have to beat Dustin, I have to beat Tony Ferguson and GSP. Then I can become pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter. This is my opinion.”
Nurmagomedov also expressed an openness to fighting at a higher weight if the UFC instituted a new class at either 160 or 165 pounds, but he said a jump up to ply his trade as a welterweight would be a step too far.
“Honestly, I want to stay in 155,” Nurmagomedov said. “If they make 165, maybe, or 160. But at 170, I’m not big like in 155.”
Dustin Poirier explains why he'll hand Khabib Nurmagomedov first loss at UFC 242
And when one reporter asked if Nurmagomedov had entertained the idea of stepping up to challenge current UFC welterweight champ – and management stablemate – Kamaru Usman, a grin briefly broke across the usually stoic Russian’s face.
“I know Kamaru Usman and. .. I don’t know why you ask this question. Maybe he call you!” he joked.
“But, I want to stay at 155. I have a lot of works in 155 – Dustin, Tony, and right now the biggest division is the lightweight division, and I have a lot of works at lightweight.”