Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Dustin Poirier with a rear-naked choke in the third round to retain his lightweight title at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.

The Dagestan-born Russian moved to 28-0 with a flawless performance at The Arena on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates, as he overwhelmed and exhausted the American with his trademark mauling against the fence.

After Poirier’s resistance finally ended, Khabib vaulted the Octagon again – but this time it was to hug UFC president Dana White, not to attack Conor McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach.

“My last fight you know with this b****** guy, I have a lot of crazy stuff, I wanna forget everything,” Khabib said in his post-fight interview. “We showed really what MMA is. The No 1 thing in MMA is respect – your coach teaches you to respect your gym, teammates, your coaches. You have to clean your gym, everything is about respect. MMA is not about trash talking. This is what we showed with Dustin and his great team.”

As a show of respect, Khabib swapped T-shirts with Poirier (25-6, 1 no contest) before his interview in the Octagon. “This shirt is for charity, I’m gonna sell this T-shirt, all this money I’m gonna send Dustin Poirier, this is what I want,” the 30-year-old said.

As for a potential next fight with Tony Ferguson, “The Eagle” was quiet. “The last two years was very busy for me, I want to relax a little bit, I have a bit too much pressure on my shoulders,” he said. “Give me a little bit of time, a couple of days.”

The crowd was thunderous in its support for the lightweight champion, chanting “Khabib, Khabib” from the off.

And Nurmagomedov was at his mauling best in round one. After feeling each other out on the feet for a minute and a half, Khabib took Poirier down against the side of the cage and delivered his trademark slow, torturous dominance. He looked to slip in the neck crack that did for McGregor last October, but couldn’t get it tight enough.

Poirier got Khabib’s attention with some strikes at the start of the second round, but Khabib executed the double leg takedown again perfectly to reassert his control. The American looked spent after the second bell, with a nasty cut above his left eye too. And Khabib quickly hooked in the rear-naked choke in the third round with Poirier tapping.

Poirier was despondent and on the verge of tears, his voice cracking with emotion in his post-fight interview.

“I knew he was gonna press. I knew I’d be against the fence a lot. I felt like I let myself down,” Poirier said. “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 so prepared. Now I gotta wake up and look myself in the mirror with this result. Adversity has taught me when times are good be grateful, when times are bad be graceful. I 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.”

(Curated Story via South China Morning Post)

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