Khabib Nurmagomedov: Islam Makhachev has ‘clearly developed plan’ to finish Dustin Poirier by Round 3 at UFC 302

Khabib Nurmagomedov expects Islam Makhachev to defend his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier in convincing fashion at UFC 302.

Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC), a retired former 155-pound titleholder and a primary coach for Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC), has been diligently preparing his athlete to face a previous opponent of his own in Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) on Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+).

Poirier comes into the fight as a sizeable underdog against Makhachev, who is No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie pound-for-pound rankings. His chances are being dismissed by many, but given his past experience with “The Diamond,” Nurmagomedov is not among that group.

“Many people underestimate Dustin Poirier,” Nurmagomedov said on his YouTube channel. “I personally fought him, spent three rounds and over 10 minutes with him, and I have a good sense of his strengths and weaknesses. We are working hard on these aspects.

“Dustin Poirier is very experienced. He’s been in many battles already. Yes, he has lost, but he also has many victories in the UFC, more than 22 or 23 wins. Using our slang, he is a seasoned warrior. You can’t take him lightly.”

Nurmagomedov defeated Poirier by third-round submission when they fought at UFC 242 in September 2019. That was Poirier’s first chance at an undisputed UFC title, and he lost the same way in his second bid at a belt against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 in December 2021.

Poirier, 35, has openly admitted to being aware this is almost certainly his final chance at an undisputed championship. That likely means he’s going to put it all on the line inside the cage, so Makhachev, 32, must be ultra-cautious. His team understands this, and Nurmagomedov said that so long as Makhachev follows the prepared strategy from training camp, he will leave with a third consecutive defense of his belt.

“We have great respect for Dustin, but on June 1, he is our opponent,” Nurmagomedov said. “We have a clearly developed plan for the fight, and I believe Islam will follow it. I really hope that Islam will finish him off in the second or third round.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie