Reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought or defended his title in almost a year year, which has led some analysts to question Khabib’s conditioning ahead of his UFC 242 title unification bout with Dustin Poirier.
Chael Sonnen believes ring rust, amongst other factors, could signal the end of Nurmagomedov’s title reign at UFC 242 but Poirier is expecting the undefeated Dagestani to be in the best shape of his career on Saturday.
“I think that’s more of an individual thing,” Poirier said of ring rust during a UFC 242 conference call (h/t Nathan Zur of Sherdog.com). “Everybody is different.
“Recently, we’ve seen Nate Diaz come back and beat Anthony Pettis. Anthony’s been pretty active. Nate [hadn’t] fought in three years. And ring rust is a thing people touch around, a word people touch around, but I think it’s more individualized. It depends how hard you’re working in the gym, and how focused you are, and how ready to compete you are.
“And I believe Khabib’s one of the guys who works year round, he’s always working on his craft, and I think he’s going to be the best he’s ever been Sept. 7.”
It is important to note that Khabib’s 11-month layoff doesn’t stem from injury, but rather, a suspension handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for his instigation of a post-fight brawl at UFC 229.
UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier takes place this Saturday, Sept. 7 at du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.