Khabib Nurmagomedov is slightly leaning toward Dustin Poirier to end Charles Oliveira’s title reign at the UFC’s final pay-per-view event of the year.
Oliveira makes his first defense of the UFC lightweight title against Poirier in the main event of UFC 269. The card takes place Dec. 11 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I have it 60/40 Dustin Poirier because of his cardio and heart,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Charles is a very, very dangerous opponent. Right now, he’s a real champion. He has a nine [fight] win streak, he beat Tony Ferguson, he finished eight [other] guys.
“It’s a very interesting fight for me, but I think it’s 60/40 Dustin Poirier.”
Nurmagomedov has already shared the octagon with Poirier, but didn’t have the chance to face Oliveira during his time as an active competitor. In the end, the former champion is leaning toward the man with whom he defeated in the main event of UFC 242 to cap off a career-altering year with undisputed gold wrapped around his waist for the first time.
Poirier began the year with back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor — a heated rival of Nurmagomedov’s — to earn his opportunity back to a championship fight. “The Diamond” has won championship gold in the past when he defeated Max Holloway for the interim title in the main event of UFC 236 in March 2019.
Oliveira captured the title, which was vacant after Nurmagomedov retired following his submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, with a second-round TKO win over Michael Chandler at May’s UFC 262 event.
Nurmagomedov is well aware of the dangers “do Bronx” presents to Poirier.
“This guy is a real finisher,” Nurmagomedov said of Oliveira. “He’s very dangerous. I think if Dustin Poirier can take him to the deep ocean like he told us, I think he’s gonna win. If he [rushes], I think Charles Oliveira has a chance to win.”