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Morning Report: Dustin Poirier makes case for title fight: If Khabib really is retired, ‘the division has to move on’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

At UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title with a second-round submission of Justin Gaethje. After the win, Nurmagomedov then announced his retirement from the sport, citing the passing of his father, Abdulmanap, and a promise he made to his mother. But despite Nurmagomedov’s declaration, officially, Khabib remains the UFC lightweight champion and the UFC seemingly does not have plans to strip him of the title any time soon as Dana White recently announced that the main event of UFC 257, a lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor that most people assumed would be for the vacant title belt, would in fact not be for a title. It’s a curious situation and one that has left a decided lack of clarity for the rest of the division, including the man who will be fighting at UFC 257.

“I think if Khabib’s retired and not coming back, then I’m next in line for the title shot, and this could be the title fight,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “This could be for the undisputed belt. I think that’d make sense. Dana’s saying one thing, Khabib’s saying another. Who knows what the truth is? Time will tell.”

The two sides are currently telling very different stories. Since UFC 254, Dana White has insisted that Khabib had made an emotional decision and would ultimately fight again. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has been equally as insistent that his fighting days are over. It’s a difficult situation given the immense emotional turmoil Khabib suffered this year and while Poirier understands allowing Khabib time to reconsider, the second-ranked lightweight contender also hopes that if things continue to hold steady by the time UFC 257 comes around, the UFC will keep the division moving.

“The division has to move on,” Poirier said. “The only thing that makes me think the guy is serious is, first of all, he doesn’t seem like a bullsh*tter, and if he said he’s done right after the fight and his father just passed away, it’s an emotional moment. You just got another title defense, you get to go back home to your family. You might say those things right after. But a month later, you’re still singing the same tune? Maybe the guy’s mind is somewhere else. Maybe he is moving forward. Maybe, like he said, he’s accomplished everything he set out to do. I don’t know. But if he is done, somebody has to fight for that belt.”

One scenario that has been gaining public support is the creation of an interim title, while the UFC waits to see if Khabib really does intend to retire. However, Poirier has already won one interim title in his life and thinks creating one in this instance is not the right way to go.

“I want the undisputed belt,” Poirier said. “I think in this situation, with him just defending, I don’t think an interim belt makes a whole lot of sense.”

Poirier certainly has a point. Creating an interim title only a few months removed from Khabib’s last title defense would be fairly quick. Especially as there may be some truth to Dana White’s assertions that Khabib will fight again. Yesterday, the lightweight champion posted a cryptic message to social media telling Dana White he would see him soon.

If Khabib does opt to come back for one more bout, it certainly wouldn’t make sense to have an interim title and ultimately, it wouldn’t matter for Poirier, because “The Diamond” is confident that interim belt or no, if he takes care of business at UFC 257, he’ll be fighting for the undisputed belt next.

“If the title’s not on the line for this fight with Conor, it’s going to be the next fight. After I beat Conor, my next fight will be for the belt if this isn’t it.”


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Got himself a fight it seems.

Figgy Smalls wasn’t having it with not getting a Performance of the Night bonus so he literally went and got the bag.

Call out.

Running it back.

The Reem.



T.J. getting ready to return.




Could it be? Was Dana White actually right? I struggle to see Khabib going back on a promise to his mother but damn if that wouldn’t be awesome. Here’s to hoping.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States so there won’t be a Morning Report. Hope those who are celebrating have a good and safe holiday and I’ll see y’all on Friday.



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