To come home from Abu Dhabi as the undisputed lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier must do what 27 men before him could not: defeat current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
It's easier said than done, of course, and Poirier knows it better than anyone.
To figure out how this monumental task could be accomplished at UFC 242, we asked the people who spend more time with the interim belt holder than nearly anyone else: his teammates at American Top Team.
"Dustin’s a dog. That’s the first thing you’ve gotta know about Dustin. He might not be the fastest, the strongest, the smartest, the best technical guy…but he’s one of the biggest dogs the UFC has ever seen. You’ve gotta kill that dog. You’ve gotta shoot him in the head and hope that he doesn’t keep moving, because that dog keeps coming."
"Because he’s from American Top Team. He’s my teammate, and he has everything to win this fight. I talked with Dustin a little bit about my fight against [Khabib]. I tried to give my experience of fighting him. I think Dustin will finish Khabib because he has everything. He proved to everybody he’s one of the best in the world. If Khabib gives him one chance—one chance—the fight will be over. I’m very excited for the fight. I hope the belt will stay here in South Florida."
"I feel like his boxing will bring a problem to Khabib that nobody really has before. He’s well-rounded too, so he has a better chance of defending the wrestling shots. Khabib keeps his chin up so high, every fight I’m like ‘He’s gonna get caught! He’s gonna get caught!’ and I feel like this might be the one he gets caught."
"This is what I’ve been telling people from the beginning: I truly think that Dustin has a legitimate shot at beating Khabib. I think the difference with Dustin that Khabib hasn’t fought yet is that Dustin, every single round, has knockout power. Even when he looks tired, he still always throws to hurt you. And when he lands, I think Khabib is in for a little rude awakening. I think Khabib hasn’t been hit as hard and as often as Dustin (will). Dustin’s going to put pressure on, he’s going to hit you, and when he starts landing, I think Khabib’s going to be in a little bit of trouble. I think Dustin’s endurance is one of his biggest assets because Khabib could take him down for three rounds, but that fourth round comes and Dustin still has the ability to truly hurt you. And I think that’s something Khabib has never experienced. He’s used to guys just folding up, and after those first few rounds, they’re no longer dangerous on the feet. So he’s like ‘Oh, I’ll stand and trade with them a little bit…they’ve lost the pop in their shot.’ Dustin never loses that, and that’s a scary thing because you’ve got to exert so much energy to take them down and then hold them down. Then you’ve got to realize, hey, next round, the same thing has begun again: he’s coming to take you out. He’s coming to hurt you. So everything that Dustin throws is to hurt you."