For the 30-year old Louisiana native, a win on Sept. 6 not only allows him to live his dream of becoming an undisputed UFC champion but it would also etch him in the history books as the first fighter to ever put a blemish on Nurmagomedov’s otherwise pristine record.
Through 27 fights and 27 different opponents, the undefeated Russian has barely been tested in a fight much less put into the kind of trouble to convince anyone that he was on the verge of losing. He’s mauled almost every opponent he’s faced in the UFC, often times talking to them during the course of the fight to convince them to just give up.
Nurmagomedov doesn’t just beat his opponents. In many ways he humiliates every athlete stepping into the cage with him by so thoroughly dominating them that not a single fighter has ever earned a rematch.
It’s for all those reasons why Poirier knows a win over Nurmagomedov means more than just walking away as the UFC lightweight champion.
“It’s huge. It’s history,” Poirier told MMA Fighting when asked what a win over Nurmagomedov would mean to him. “When I go out there and beat Khabib, it’s not a question of am I the best UFC lightweight? It’s a question of am I the best lightweight to ever fight in mixed martial arts with the run I’m on.
As confident as Poirier seems, he’s also under no impression that he’s going to have an easy night when going up against Nurmagomedov at UFC 242.
He knows this is going to be a battle through every second whether the fight lasts one minute or goes the distance in all five rounds.
That’s why eventually beating Nurmagomedov — or in a perfect world finishing the seemingly unbeatable Russian wrecking machine — would put Poirier in a class all by himself.
“If I go out there and stop Khabib, I’m the best lightweight fighter to ever strap on a pair of four-ounce gloves. Simple and plain,” Poirier said. “I’m not wrong in saying it.”
While the ‘greatest of all time’ debates will rage on regardless of what any one fighter accomplishes, Poirier knows in his mind what a win over Nurmagomedov will mean for his career.
That said, Poirier isn’t losing sight of the bigger picture that as monumental as a win against Nurmagomedov would be for his legacy, it will also put a massive target on his back at UFC champion.
He’s well aware of the challenges that lie ahead including potential showdowns against fighters like Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor and that’s why Poirier isn’t looking at UFC 242 as the end of the road.
It’s just the beginning of something much, much bigger.
“This is going to start the reign,” Poirier said. “This is the fight that gives me the undisputed title. But on the other side, this is the fight where I etch my name into the history books forever. Because of this win, I’m going to forever be a part of the best of the best of mixed martial arts.
“But I’m 30 years old and I still feel like my best fights are ahead of me. I’m starting to hit my stride. This is the beginning of “The Diamond” reign.”