Khabib Nurmagomedov says there will be no repeat of his infamous post-bout antics against Conor McGregor when he takes on Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi in September.
The undefeated Russian faces the American in a lightweight unification fight at The Arena on Yas Island on September 7, where he makes his competitive comeback following the nine-month suspension accrued last October.
Nurmagomedov, 30, has not fought since defeating McGregor at UFC 229 by a comprehensive fourth-round submission. However, the night was marred by the ensuing brawl, when Nurmagomedov scaled the octagon fence and jumped into the crowd to confront the Irishman’s corner. It prompted the ban and a $500,000 (Dh1.83 million) fine.
On Friday, Nurmagomedov returned to Las Vegas for the UFC 2019 Summer Press Conference, but while he promised a similar performance against Poirier in Abu Dhabi, the Dagestan native said the action would remain firmly inside cage.
The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for the first time in five years having previously been staged in the capital in 2010 and 2014. UFC 242 marks the first event since the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) announced in April a five-year agreement with the world's leading mixed martial arts promotion.
Tickets for the event, which brings to a close the inaugural Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, almost sold out within the first four days, although hotel packages are still available.
“You guys remember the T-Mobile last time, what I did here?” Nurmagomedov asked the crowd. “Nothing changed. I’m going to do this in Abu Dhabi too. Defend my title. But without jumping.”
The UFC’s No 3-ranked fighter, lightweight champion Nurmagomedov boasts a 27-0 record in mixed martial arts. Poirier, meanwhile, has won 25 of his 31 fights, with one draw. He defeated Max Holloway at UFC 236 in April to earn the lightweight interim belt – and a shot at Nurmagomedov.
“About Dustin Poirier, Dustin is tough guy,” Nurmagomedov said. "He has more than 20 fights in the UFC, he has good experience. Honestly, the last fight I expected Max is going to beat him, this one is a little bit a surprise for me. He has good boxing, good footwork.
“Last six fights, he fights only striking guys. He never fight with a guy who all the time is wrestling with him. I think it’s going to be a tough night for him. This is my opinion. Because you have to be ready. I’m going to wrestle with him all night, make him tired, make him tap. This is my plan.”