Khabib, Conor in war of words after Poirier stings

Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island. — Reuters
Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island. — Reuters

Abu Dhabi - Poirier dismantled McGregor with a series of calf kicks and punches in 2:32 of the second round



By Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 8:39 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 8:56 PM

Retired but still the UFC’s lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov wished to see something special at UFC 257 to entice him back to the octagon. While No.4 Conor McGregor promised a masterpiece, No.2 Dustin Poirier delivered it in Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island triple header finale on Sunday.

In the headline event, Poirier dismantled McGregor with a series of calf kicks and punches in 2:32 of the second round. At the end of the day, McGregor walked out of the Etihad Arena on crutches.

And after extending his MMA run to 27-6 and avenging his 2014 loss to McGregor, Poirier noted: “I felt like this was a title fight. If Khabib is not coming back, me and Conor are the two best guys. I think this is a title fight, I’m the champion.”

Khabib, after the complete annihilation of his arch-rival McGregor, rubbed it in with his tweet: “This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.”

During the post-fight press conference, McGregor fired back at Khabib over “disrespectful comments.”

“My team has been with me since day one. I have not changed anything. It is what it is. Respect the athletes and that’s the character of the man for sure, behind the mask. What’s he wants to do? Does he want to come back or not? Because he’s not throwing no leg kicks.”

McGregor gave credit to Poirier and gave a shout out to Khabib. “Styles make fights. Dustin’s style just played into it today and he has the durability, he has the experience, and he has leg kicks now in his arsenal. I’ll adjust and keep going. But if he (Khabib) wants to have his disrespectful comments, come back and let’s go again my man. I am here for it.”

Separately, UFC president Dana White had a word with Khabib after the UFC257.

“I did talk to Khabib. He said: ‘Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys.’ I don’t know what he’s (deciding) but it doesn’t sound very positive. He wanted to see something spectacular.”

White will talk to Khabib again and a final decision will be made in the next few days.

“He won’t hold the division up. He has already retired. I am the one who has been trying to get him to do one more,” White added.

Meanwhile, in the co-main event, former Bellator MMA lightweight champ Michael Chandler made a stunning debut by knocking out No.6 Dan Hooker. And if Khabib doesn’t return, White may set an all-American Poirier-Chandler clash for the vacant title.

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com


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