UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says Conor McGregor “doesn’t deserve” a rematch and “begged me not to kill him,” as the Russian faced off against Dustin Poirier ahead of their bout at UFC 242 in September.
A potential re-run of Nurmagomedov’s fight against McGregor was just one of the topics that came up during the first press conference in London for the undefeated Russian’s fight against Poirier in Abu Dhabi on September 7.
Here, RT Sport brings you the best quotes from the event.
Poirier on fighting in Abu Dhabi, where Khabib will enjoy huge support
“The story of my life is fighting through stuff like that, to defy the odds and earn a victory in the midst of that type of stuff.”
Khabib on life after the McGregor fight
“Life has changed of course, I become a bit more famous, a lot things changed in my life. In my mind, nothing’s changed, I keep training, I keep going. This isn’t my last fight.
“What happened on October 6 is just beginning of my legacy, I’m very excited about my comeback.”
Khabib on fighting in Abu Dhabi
“I think it’s gonna be very big and a very good show for everyone fighting there.
“For me, my father can come and be in my corner for the first time in the UFC, he can’t come to the US.
“They’ve already sold all tickets, it’s going to be a good show… I’m very excited.”
Khabib on the terms for reducing his teammates’ suspensions from UFC 229
“I told the UFC I’m gonna fight with my friends, my brothers, if not we’re gonna wait until the disqualification is finished and all come back together.
“The UFC did a good job, thank you to them.”
Khabib on facing Georges St-Pierre and his legacy
“Honestly I don’t know about if he will come back
“If I wanna make my legacy big, I have to beat [Tony] Ferguson and GSP.
“Then I can become pound for pound number one.”
Poirier on winning the interim title
“I’ve felt a lot of appreciation from people reaching out… I’m grateful I can inspire people.
“I’m still Dustin, I’ll go home, I’m a dad, life is pretty much the same except I’ve got a gold belt.”
Poirier on facing Khabib’s formidable wrestling
“[I’ll] just be myself, show what I’m capable of, 27 have tried [against Khabib], 27 have failed. I don’t really need him to be weak for me to be strong, I’m gonna create holes with my pressure, my experience. It’s gonna be a hell of a fight.”
Khabib on Poirier’s danger
“He has good experience, more than 20 fights in UFC. This is experience. I respect him like a human, a fighter, he beat a lot of tough guys. The last fight [vs Holloway] he impressed me with his boxing.
“He’s become interim champ for a reason, he beat Holloway, a lot of former champions
“But when the cage closes, I’m gonna keep going.”
Poirier on potential advantage of fighting more recently
“Everybody’s different. It’s on him, I can’t feel how he’s feeling. He’s got a lot of experience, I don’t think there’s gonna be any ring rust [for Khabib].”
Khabib on testing himself against Poirier’s striking
“I tested myself with one of the best strikers, [Edson] Barboza,[Michael] Johnson, Conor, all very good strikers, half of them already finished Dustin.
“I already tested myself against a lot of strikers.
“My box is not bad too, I have a lot of fights all my life, I don’t remember someone who caught me.
“I respect his [Poirier’s] game , his boxing, but September 7, I have to do my job like always.”
Poirier on why he can beat Khabib
“Experience, self-belief, my mindset, I’m focused on making history. That’s what the next 11 weeks of my life will be.
“I don’t need to find huge holes, the guys good, he’s the world champ, but I’m gonna makes things happen and bring him to places he’s never been to.
“I’ve learned I can count on myself. Adversity introduces a man to himself, I’m well acquainted and I’m ready to rock.”
Khabib on fighting in the UAE
“MMA and UFC is very popular in the Emirates. I can’t even walk around the street [there]. I feel like I’m in Dagestan, the same thing. It’s very popular in the Emirates and all Arabic countries, the Middle East. I’m not surprised the UFC made this event there.”
Khabib on acclimatizing in the UAE
“Maybe one month [before the fight], we’ll see, we have to talk with father, about when we’re going to go, we don’t know yet.”
Khabib on not competing for 9 months
“I followed all the shows, I missed it a little bit, not too much. Before when I was injured, I missed two years, I missed it a lot. Not too much this time, but I’m still hungry.
“After every fight, I don’t feel nothing. With victories, after every fight I enjoy. But I’m very excited about competing with one of the best guys in the world. But I’m not missing the fights.”
Khabib on a rematch with McGregor
“In the last three years, he only has one victory in amateur boxing. How does he deserve a rematch?
“He tapped, he begged me, ‘please don’t kill me.’ Tony Ferguson is on the line, guys with a win streak are on the line, not a guy who didn’t do nothing in three years.”
Khabib on having his father in his corner
“It means a lot because my father was never in my corner in my UFC career, last time was 2011 in my last fight in Russia. Im very happy.”
Poirier on potential two-weight title tilt
“I’ll never fight at 145[lbs] again, if anything maybe a move up, but I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
Khabib on Ferguson
“He deserves a title shot, but he didn’t take the Holloway fight, I don’t know why he didn’t take this fight, I don’t understand this.
“I don’t want to underestimate Dustin, he’s a tough challenge, right now I don’t want to think about other opponents.”