Former UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov thinks if Poirier can avoid the early pressure of Oliveira he will do enough in the later rounds to win the 155-pound title
Retired UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov has given Dustin Poirier the slight edge to beat Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 on December 11.
Oliveira defends his UFC lightweight title for the first time when he fights former interim champion Poirier in Las Vegas.
The Brazilian won Nurmagomedov’s vacated 155-pound title in May by knocking out former Bellator champion Michael Chandler at UFC 262.
Poirier has won three straight fights since missing out on the lightweight title against Nurmagomedov in 2019, including two finishes over UFC star Conor McGregor.
And Nurmagomedov thinks if Poirier can wether the early onslaught of Oliveira he can win the fight in the later rounds.
“You cannot go to the Charles Oliveira red zone. This guy is a real finisher,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN.
“He’s very dangerous, and I think if Dustin Poirier takes him to the deep ocean like he told us, I think he’s going to win.
“But if you rush, I think Charles Oliveira is going to have a chance. My opinion: It’s 60-40 (percent) I think, to Dustin Poirier.”
“Because of his (Poirier’s) cardio and heart, it’s my opinion. But Charles is a very, very dangerous opponent and he knows right now he’s the real champion and because he has nine-win streak.
“He beat Tony Ferguson, he finished eight guys and it’s a very interesting fight for me. I think 60-40 Dustin Poirier.”
Nurmagomedov retired from MMA after promising his mother he would not fight again due to the passing of his father Abulmanap last year.
He won the UFC lightweight title in 2018 and defended it against Poirier, McGregor and Justin Gaethje before his retirement last year.
UFC president Dana White tried to convince the Russian to entertain a second fight with McGregor, but he refused to and has since turned to coaching other fighters and starting his own MMA promotion.
Who wins at UFC 269, Oliveira or Poirier? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below
And Nurmagomedov believes the winner of Oliveira vs Poirier later this month will not be the best lightweight in the UFC.
The retired Russian has instead given that title to the winner of Beneil Dariush vs Islam Makhachev, which headlines a Fight Night event in February.
“I believe Islam and Dariush deserve to fight for the title right now,” he continued.
“But we have some big names at lightweight, you can’t say no to Poirier or Justin Gaethje, they have very big names. As fighters, in my opinion, these two guys are better than Dustin or Justin.
“That’s just my opinion, they have big names and we know in this game sometimes a nine-fight win streak is not enough to fight for the title.
“Sometimes you have to build your name and Beneil and Islam is truly, 100 per cent a No.1 contender fight.”