At UFC 242 in September, the UFC will make the journey to Abu Dhabi with one of the best main events of the year set to take place.
Undefeated lightweight phenomenon and current titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov will battle the interim champion, Dustin Poirier. The fight will determine which man has true claim over the title of the best 155-pound fighter on the planet.
The card is huge, but so is any card where an undefeated champion fights. Fresh off his suspension, Nurmagomedov is itching to get back to what he does best. It will either be a classic Nurmagomedov clinic where he makes another great talent look average by comparison, or it will be a case of Poirier beating the odds again.
However, there’s another name who is always in the mix – Conor McGregor. McGregor did battle with Nurmagomedov last year, trying to reclaim the title he never lost, and to be specific, never defended. McGregor wouldn’t be able to muster much of an offense against Nurmagomedov, struggling with his grappling over the course of four rounds.
The biggest offense McGregor did manage to muster, aside from a brief bit of offense in the third, was his pre-fight trash talk. Those words and the infamous bus attack apparently pushed Nurmagomedov over the edge, leading to the post-fight brawl that saw both men (and men from each camp) sanctioned as a result.
Now Nurmagomedov is reminding “The Notorious” that if he does plan to attend UFC 242, he’d best not try any of his trademark shenanigans.
“It will be more difficult to leave Abu Dhabi than New York. If he plans to come, he should sit and watch the fights because it will be impossible to pull any of his underhanded tricks there. Let him come if he plans to come, but his shenanigans won’t work there.”
He said that Abu Dhabi is no place for showoffs, and his firm warning is one that McGregor may want to take seriously. It isn’t just the former champ’s penchant for constant trouble that could catch up with him, but he probably doesn’t want to draw the ire of the man who just pummeled and submitted him last year.
If Nurmagomedov wins, his next opponent is likely (or at least most logically) Tony Ferguson. If Poirier were to win, it is possible Nurmagomedov could end up in a rematch with McGregor. Despite McGregor being all but shut out in their first battle, management probably wants to keep the huge draw around the title picture.
While McGregor hasn’t exactly kept an active schedule and has all of one win against a top lightweight, he’s still the type of name that can move buy rates. He already has a victory over Poirier, though that win came when they were both at featherweight.
Will McGregor heed the warning of Nurmagomedov, and avoid causing a stir at UFC 242? Or will the drama outside the cage be what fans remember the Abu Dhabi card for?