While the undefeated Dagestani lightweight remains focused on the task at hand, it’s impossible not to look at what could potentially come next if he’s victorious on Sept. 7.
The list of contenders vying for a title shot seems to grow with every card held by the UFC but Nurmagomedov knows only one name matters when it comes to his next title defense assuming he gets through Poirier.
“There’s only Tony Ferguson,” Nurmagomedov told MMA Fighting on Friday during a UFC 242 media conference call. “Of course, I think he deserves. Who else? Nobody. Only Tony Ferguson I think.”
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to fight four times over the past four years yet they’ve never actually met inside the Octagon.
Freak injuries, weight cutting woes and illness have prevented them from ever clashing previously but Nurmagomedov obviously believes Ferguson’s 12-fight win streak has earned him the opportunity to compete for the title.
While Ferguson is at the top of Nurmagomdov’s potential hit list after UFC 242, one person he doesn’t even want to address is former opponent Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomdov dispatched the former two-division champion last October in dominant fashion with a fourth-round rear naked choke submission at UFC 229.
Despite the result, there remains a lot of bad blood between the fighters and McGregor has said he wants nothing more than to avenge his loss to Nurmagomedov when he returns to action later this year.
That said as much as he enjoyed beating McGregor when they met previously, Nurmagomedov is moving past that rivalry when it comes to granting the Irish superstar another shot at his title any time soon.
“Honestly I don’t understand what you ask about. This guy, when did he win the last time?” Nurmagomedov said about McGregor. “Why do we keep talking about this guy? This guy don’t train more than three years. We keep talking about this guy.
“I don’t want to talk about him. We have Dustin Poirier, we have a lot of stuff, please let’s talk about real stuff.”
In fact, Nurmagomedov sees Poirier as a tougher challenge than McGregor, which is why he’s put so much time and effort into his training camp to prepare for this fight.
“I think maybe right now Dustin is a more complete MMA fighter than him,” Nurmagomedov stated. “Because he beat a lot of good guys in the lightweight division and I don’t remember when Conor win in the lightweight division. I think he only beat [Eddie] Alvarez and he have only one win in the lightweight division in a long, long time.
“That’s why I think Dustin Poirier is a much better fighter than him.”