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Dustin Poirier praises Khabib Nurmagomedov’s grappling dominance: ‘His feet are like hands’

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Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Dustin Poirier has a case to be the best lightweight in the world right now, but when he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 two years ago, he met an opponent that was on another level.

At least that’s the case when it comes to the grappling department as Poirier became one of countless fighters to fall prey to Nurmagomedov’s legendary sambo skills. “The Diamond” made it to the third round before Nurmagomedov put him away with a rear-naked choke to improve his record to 28-0.

Nurmagomedov has since retired, but when Poirier was recently asked if Nurmagomedov’s vaunted grappling game was everything he expected it to be, he praised “The Eagle.”

“More,” Poirier said on American Top Team’s Punchin’ In podcast. “More. Not super strong. None of these guys that I fought feel crazy strong to where it’s overwhelming, it’s just that his position and his balance were so good. He knew where my weight was, where it needed to be to get in a better position.

“He’s just so advanced. And his feet are like hands. His foot sweeps and the way it breaks you down, it’s good. He’s good, so good.”

Poirier entered his fight with Nurmagomedov on a six-fight unbeaten streak with just one loss on his record since making a permanent move up to 155 pounds. No slouch in the submission game himself, Poirier admitted that it was frustrating dealing with Nurmagomedov’s relentless pressure.

“I got smothered and my goal was to turn it into a fight, like I wanted it to be a fight,” Poirier said. “And he just smothered me and did what he does and I couldn’t stop it. I’ve been grappling a long time.”

Poirier’s coach Mike Brown also appeared on Punchin’ In and while he knows the fight at UFC 242 wasn’t going their way, he still believed that Poirier could figure out how to be the first to beat Nurmagomedov.

“Even late in the fight I always thought you had a chance to finish him because your conditioning is good,” Brown said. “There was always the potential of ‘if he gets away’ even though you were down heavy on the scorecards, ‘if he just gets away though, he could land one shot.’ Or the guillotine attempt, you always have that equalizer to get yourself back in it.”