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Money, ‘a lion on his back’ & dealing with the pressure – Khabib has final say before UFC 242 Russian UFC lightweight ruler Khabib Nurmagomedov donned his famous papakha headgear before vowing that he was “ready for a five-round war” against interim champ Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi.

Nurmagomedov and Poirier both made weight on Friday morning, the Dagestani fighter in particular dispelling suggestions in some quarters that he would struggle to hit the 155lbs lightweight limit.

And when he appeared at the ceremonial weigh-in later on Friday in Abu Dhabi, the already re-invigorated-looking Nurmagomedov stepped onto the scales for the fans before donning the famous papakha he has become synonymous with to stare down Poirier.

The fight will be Nurmagomedov’s first since his dominant victory over Conor McGregor in  Las Vegas 11 months ago, when he extended his professional record to 27-0 but was handed a suspension and fine for the mass melee he sparked after the bout. 

On Saturday night on Yas Island in the UAE capital, Nurmagomedov faces American fighter Poirier – a man who clinched the interim belt – and a shot at Khabib – with victory over featherweight king Max Holloway in a five-round war of attrition at UFC 236 in April.

‘Diamond’ Poirier has not suffered defeat since his KO loss to Michael Johnson in September 2016, winning five fights in the ensuing period and finding himself in arguably the best form he has even been.

Nurmagomedov spoke to the media after the weigh-in formalities, answering questions on his weight-cut, his opponent, money, and having his father in his corner on Saturday night.

We’ve picked out Khabib‘s best quotes below.

The atmosphere

“I feel great, my energy is very good because they [the fans] give me energy. Before the weigh-in I feel a little bit tired, honestly, but right now, when I see the atmosphere, how they support me, I’m feeling great.”

The temperature in Abu Dhabi 

“I don’t care about the temperature, it’s going to be [the same] for me and my opponent. Plus 40, minus 40, it’s the same.”

The weight cut

“This was the best weight cut in my career.”  

Missing duties on media day

“Sometimes the media take too much energy. I need this energy for training, the media takes your energy like crazy.”

Having his father in his corner

“When my father is with me, I feel like on my back I have a lion.”

On his media duties

“Three months, the same questions. You guys ask me 90 percent the same questions, father, what do I think about Dustin, training camp. Right now, I want to go, but they say I have to stay.”   

Staying humble despite his reported $6mn fight purse

“I like money too, who says I don’t like money! Everybody likes money. But this is not everything for me at this point, but of course money is important.  But money can be dangerous too, if it goes inside your mind. But if you have money in your hands, this is good, you can help a lot of people.” 

On Poirier

“Dustin’s a tough guy, he has big experience… I’m focused on a five-round war… I’m ready for a stand-up fight as well.”

Feeling the pressure  

“Of course I feel pressure, but when the cage closes, I’m just going to fight.”

RT Sport will be bringing you extensive coverage of all the UFC 242 action in Abu Dhabi, so be sure to check our website and social media platforms regularly throughout the weekend. 

Conrad Contributor