Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

UFC 242: Dustin Poirier gives tearful press conference after loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi

American said he believed it was his destiny to dethrone the Russian champion at The Arena on Yas Island

Dustin Poirier broke down in tears following his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov and revealed he had believed it was his “destiny” to become the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.

The American tapped out in the third round of the main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, in what was one of the most anticipated mixed martial arts fights of the year.

In a press conference after the match, Poirier struggled to maintain his composure, and said he would relive the fight in his head for the rest of his life, wondering if he could have done more to inflict a first defeat on the undefeated Russian champion.

Though initially downcast but composed when he began the press conference, he broke down in response to a question about Nurmagomedov’s post-fight offer to help his opponent’s charity raise money by auctioning merchandise. Dana White, the UFC president, offered to match whatever Nurmagomedov raises.

“You know, that’s great, because it’s going to help a lot of people,” Poirier, whose charity, The Good Fight Foundation, helps to raise money for good causes, said. “We’re building a water well in Uganda, so I’m sure with the memorabilia sold we’re going to reach the goal.”

But wiping away tears, he added: “But I wanted to leave today the world champ. I just let myself down. But I appreciate them helping out the charity; it’s been growing and I’m very grateful for that.”

Later, he said: “I was just so prepared, this one really hurts. I just didn’t do enough and I’ve got to live with it for the rest of my life.”

On his future plans, the Louisiana native said he would discuss his next move with his wife before making a decision. “It’s tough to say right now, this was my 41st fight tonight,” he said. “I’m only 30 years old, I’ve just been through so much in my fighting career, I don’t know what’s next. Honestly, the last 10 weeks, in terms of training camp and preparing for this fight, I thought the stars were aligning and this was my night.

“I thought this was destiny. I don’t want to keep crying in front of you guys but this just means a lot to me. I just thought I was going to fly back to the United States the undisputed champ, so this really hurts.”

Although he lost the first two rounds, Poirier appeared to have Nurmagomedov in trouble with a guillotine choke in the third, and had hurt him with a right hand in the second. He said he his gameplan was to take the later rounds but admitted he had struggled to come to terms with his opponent’s skill, movement and balance.

“The guillotine was really deep,” he said. “For the rest of my life I’m going to look back and wonder why I didn’t jump full guard with it. I should have jumped full guard so he couldn’t roll out and relieve the pressure.

“I’m familiar with adversity, I’ll just have to live the rest of my life asking myself if I could have done more. If I could have maybe escaped some of those takedowns, if I could have pushed harder, those are the questions that will haunt me.”

He also apologised if anyone had been offended by describing Abu Dhabi as “enemy territory” in the build-up, a reference to Nurmagomedov’s strong following in the region. He said the heat in the venue had not affected his performance.

“This is the smoothest, most welcoming fight week I’ve ever had in my career,” he said. “I’ve been to cities all over, different countries, and Abu Dhabi was amazing, the people were great, everywhere I went the service was great. Which added to me thinking it was all coming together.”

Updated: September 9, 2019 05:06 AM

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