Nurmagomedov, Poirier face off in Abu Dhabi
The stakes were high as it was feared that Khabib has issues with his weight and may miss qualification.
The Arena, Yas Island, sets the stage for the highly-anticipated title clash of the UFC lightweight division between undefeated champion Khabib 'the Eagle' Nurmagomedov and challenger Dustin 'Diamond' Poirier on Saturday night.
And on Friday, the fighters confirmed the championship status in a glittering ceremonial weigh-in at newly built venue, the Arena. But before the ceremonies, an official weigh-in was conducted in the morning hours. The event was almost a fight before the fight.
The stakes were high as it was feared that Khabib has issues with his weight and may miss qualification. Also Khabib had hinted on Wednesday that he needed to be 155 pounds and not 156, and then added grist to mills by skipping the scheduled media interaction on Thursday.
The official weigh-in wasn't short of drama either. Just minutes before the event, Khabib did a rehearsal and checked weight on the traditional scale. He stood on the scale without shorts as his teammates covered him with a towel. And when the official said he did make the cut, there was a sigh of relief on his face. Back stage, fighters do have digital scales but it may not be accurate unless calibrated.
Later a confident Khabib walked out for official weighing-in and again took his shorts off, used a cover, and stood on the scales. The official shouted '155' and a relieved Khabib pointed upwards. Minutes later Dustin walked in, stood on the scales, as official declared: 'also 155' to confirm both fighters' qualification for the championship.
Khabib later revealed that he was focusing on cutting weights for few days now. And now he is ready for his biggest opponent yet.
"Dustin is very good and experienced but I am in good shape. Dustin has shown in last fight that he is a tough guy and can fight five rounds. I am focusing on five-round match. There is always pressure on me. But I just want to get inside the cage and fight."
There has been lot of talk about humidity and how fighters will cope with the heat inside the Arena but Khabib was cool about it.
"It doesn't matter if it is plus or minus 40 as my opponent also faces the same." Khabib is pumped up to have a strong team and massive number of supporters to root for him.
"I am happy to have my father and family here with me. There are lots of people who are here from Dagestan. They can't come to the US."
Now the war of words is over. While Khabib will look to extend his unbeaten run, the Russian faces his biggest test yet in Dustin. Both the 30-year-olds are equally matched in experience and at the end it will boil down to who has more fire in his belly.
Remember, Khabib made MMA monster Conor McGregor tap and Dustin battered tough opponent Max Holloway. It's fight of equals and time will tell who the last man standing is.