Khabib’s opponent left broken and crying
The last time Khabib Nurmagomedov was in an octagon, he didn't leave through the door.
He made an exit more befitting a champion today.
The UFC's lightweight pound-for-pound king hadn't fought in the 11 months since he punctuated his star-making victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas by scaling the fence and jumping into the crowd to fight McGregor's entourage.
But after nearly a year away from competition, Nurmagomedov (28-0) showed he kept his edge as he dominated his UFC 242 title fight against Dustin Poirier (21-6, 1 no-contest).
Nurmagomedov got a hold of Poirier midway through the first round and eventually took the interim champ down and began to maul him.
Poirier earned some respect by landing a couple of right hands early in the second as he attempted to fight back but it wasn't long before the champ began wearing him down again as he took a two round lead. "I can't get him the f*** off of me, man," Poirier told his corner after the second.
Nurmagomedov shot again early in the third. Poirier managed to apply a reasonable guillotine choke but the Dagestani didn't panic and eventually squeezed his head free.
He finished the deal seconds later, submitting Poirier with a rear-naked choke to complete another dominant defence.
Nurmagomedov was focused on showing respect in his post-fight interview, thank his father and his team before paying tribute to his opponent.
"MMA is not about trash talking," he said. "This is what we show with Dustin Poirier and his great team."
Poirier broke down as he spoke to the crowd. "I just feel like I let myself down," he said. "I felt like my whole career set me up for this moment ..."
Azaitar absolutely crushes Packalen with a right hand to the ear. Packalen was out on impact. He was twitching after he landed on the mat. #UFC242— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) September 7, 2019
UFC STAR 'LEFT TWITCHING ON MAT'
The UFC's third-ever show in the United Arab Emirates, but its first since 2014, earlier saw Paul Felder upset Edson Barboza via split decision in another lightweight bout.
Heavyweight contender ignited the main card by pummelling Dagestan's Shamil Abdurakhimov but the scariest KO came from Ottman Azaitar who caught Teemu Packalen behind the ear in the first round.
One of McGregor's other noted rivals - Nate Diaz - also created headlines on Sunday when it was announced he'd headline UFC 244 in New York in November in a fan's dream fight against Jorge Masvidal.