Russian UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov said that support in the region "excites" him ahead of UFC 242
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has vowed to "finish off" challenger Dustin Poirier at the upcoming UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, where he believes he has the advantage of adoring Middle Eastern fans.
In a media call with reporters over the weekend, Nurmagomedov said that his “one focus” is on Saturday’s fight.
“Dustin doesn’t exactly have a one punch knockout power, but you’ve got to see what I am going to do,” he said. “I want to feel his speed and I want to feel his power, and that is why I will stand up to him.
“But my ultimate plan is to finish the guy,” he added. “I have the hunger and the motivation to fight against the best guys at all times.”
Nurmagomedov, who currently stands undefeated with 27 wins and 0 losses, is currently ranked the number 2 pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC, behind light heavyweight champ Jon “Bones” Jones.
While he vowed not to underestimate his opponent, Nurmagomedov said that he believes the fans in Abu Dhabi will help propel him to victory.
“This is my area. This is not Dustin’s area. The people who come to watch will be there for me,” he said. “I will have the support of all Arab countries from the Middle East and this excites me. This will be my night.”
In an interview with Arabian Business last week, Mohammed ‘the Hawk’ Shahid, the CEO of KHK MMA – which Nurmagomedov joined in 2015 – said that he believes that the Russian fighter’s years of exposure in the Middle East have led him to become a fan favourite across the Arabian Gulf and the wider region.
“When people in the US and the West began to see him as a superstar, he was already a superstar within this region….we were all rooting for him, every fight he fought.”