Nurmagomedov preserved his incredible unbeaten streak with a dominant third-round submission win over interim titleholder Dustin Poirier in Saturday's unification bout headlining UFC in Abu Dhabi.
Save for a pair of hard left hands from Poirier to open Round 2, which briefly caused the champion to take a step back, this was as thorough and impressive a performance as Nurmagomedov has recorded to date in the second defense of his pound title.
Can't get enough UFC? The pay-per-view blockbuster, which set a new UFC record for buys, ended with an ugly melee that saw Nurmagomedov serve a nine-month suspension in the aftermath.
There was no such theatrics or disdain between fighters on Saturday.
In fact, Nurmagomedov went above and beyond to show respect for Poirier by hugging him after the fight, wearing his t-shirt during his post-fight interview and imploring the crowd to donate to Poirier's charity. You know this bullshit guy [McGregor] that I had a lot of crazy stuff but I want to forget everything," Nurmagomedov said.
That is what your coach teaches you first that you have to respect the gym, your teammates and to clean the gym.
MMA is not about trash talking and this is what we show. With his father and original trainer Abdulmanap in his corner for the first time in the UFC after years of visa issues kept him from being able to travel to the United States , Nurmagomedov showcased every aspect of a dominant grappling game that is unrivaled in UFC history.
I have father here and want to say thank you to him and also to my coach, Javier Mendez, and all my brothers [and teammates]. Everything that I have, I have because of my team. The Louisiana native spent the majority of the fight on the ground and expending all his injury to avoid being submitted as Nurmagomedov suffocated him and never let go.
Once Nurmagomedov recorded takedowns in each of the three rounds, Poirier spent the remainder of the time working to get him off. Yet each time Poirier would work to his feet, Nurmagomedov instantly dragged him back down.
The main one is that it is, in any way, a simple sport.
Not only did Nurmagomedov, 30, do a good job blocking kicks early in each round, he set up his shots perfectly with combination punching upstairs. Following a pair of deep choke attempts, Nurmagomedov closed the opening round in top position reigning down hard strikes.
The champion then opened Round 3 by badly cutting Poirier's eye with short punches while they kneeled along the cage. Nurmagomedov never panicked as Poirier briefly applied a guillotine attempt and went to take his opponent's back.
The champion's second attempt at a rear-naked choke saw him sink it in deep as the year-old Poirier quickly tapped at of Round 3 just as Nurmagomedov sat back to crank up the torque.
I feel like my whole career set me up for this moment. Maybe there were times in there I could have done more.
I was just so prepared and now I have to wake up and look at myself in the mirror every morning with this result. So I'm just going to go home and spend some time with my family. It has been a long road. I'm proud of everything I accomplished in the sport.
I have a lot of tread left in the tires but for now I just need some time to think.
I'm sorry for anyone I let down with this performance. I promise you I wanted this more than anything. I want a little bit to relax," Nurmagomedov said. Give me a little bit of time, maybe a couple of days.
The pair of lightweights left the Octagon battered and bruised with numerous cuts crossing their faces, but Felder did just enough to earn the win, and call out everyone above him in the rankings in the process.
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Dustin Poirier via third-round submission rear naked choke Paul Felder def. Edson Barboza via split decision , , Islam Makhachev def. Davi Ramos via unanimous decision , , Curtis Blaydes def. Mairbek Taisumov via unanimous decision , , Ottman Azaitar def.
Teemu Packalen via first-round KO punch Thanks for stopping by.