Company: ZUFFA, LLC – LAS VEGAS
Conference Title: Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 242 Conference Call Conference ID: 3057759
Moderator: Lenee Breckenridge Date: September 3, 2019
Operator: Good day and welcome to the Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC Media 242 conference call. Today’s conference is being recorded.
At this time I would like to turn the conference over to Vicky Coghlan. Please go ahead, ma’am.
Vicky Coghlan: Welcome to the second UFC 242 media conference call. UFC 242 takes place Saturday, September 7 from The Arena in Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi.
The event airs live on Pay Per View with the main card kicking off at 10:00 pm local, 2:00 pm ET and at 11:00 am PT.
Today’s call features undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
And with that we can just open up the questions straight to Khabib.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, I’m ready guys, let’s go.
Operator: Thank you. If you would like to ask a question, please signal by pressing Star 1 on your telephone keypad. If you are using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment.
Again, press Star 1 to ask a question. We’ll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal for questions.
Operator: If you find that your question has been answered, you may remove yourself from the queue by pressing Star 2. If you would like to queue up for a question, participants, you may press Star 1 on your telephone key pad. We will now take our question from Damon Martin from MMA Fight Team. Please go ahead.
Damon Martin: Hey, Khabib thanks for doing this today. Let me start with Dustin Poirier. Obviously, he’s been on an incredible run lately, but in your opinion, what makes Dustin a tough match-up? What makes him a tough opponent in this fight?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I think that I agree with you. You know, he has a very good win streak, he beat a lot of good guys. He beat – like last fight he beat a very tough opponent, Max Holloway and I think he deserved this.
And what makes him tough opponent? I think his experience. I think he has good experience. Even if he lose a couple times in UFC, he has good experience here, like 20 or more than 25 in UFC. And he fight – he had very big fights before, he fight with tough opponents and I think it’s about the experience. This is my opinion.
Damon Martin: Your last fight, Khabib, everyone knows you had a very personal grudge with Conor McGregor. With you and Dustin there’s a lot of respect. He’s not said a bad word about you. I don’t think there’s any bad blood. Do you prefer a fight like this where things aren’t as personal? Where things don’t get as personal?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I think this sport, mixed martial arts, this is all about respect. We have to respect each other. Even if you don’t like your opponent, you have to respect them, because this is a very
tough sport, unforgivable sport and you have family and your opponent has family. A lot of people watch on you guys, a lot of kids watch on you and that’s why you have to be respect. This is very important.
My last fight, it was a little bit crazy and tough fight, but now I have an opponent I want to show respect to, and it’s all about respect. That’s why we both show respect. But when cage close, it’s going to be very good, high level match up in lightweight division.
This right now, is most important fight in lightweight division, because he’s interim champion and I’m world champ and we have to fight and it’s going to be high level fight. Even if we respect each other, when we go to the cage, we both understand who is enemy inside the cage.
Damon Martin: Khabib, you were the lightweight champion 27 and 0 in your career, and right now you’re number two in the pound for pound rankings in this sport. Does something like that matter to you? I know your teammate Daniel Cormier talked a lot about it. In some fighters it matters a lot to them to be considered the best pound for pound fighter in this sport. Is that something that matters to you or something you think about?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Honestly, if you fighter, you have to be like I want to become best fighter in the world. I want to become pound for pound number one, you have to worry about this, you have to think like this.
I don’t care about this, I just focus on every single opponent and that’s why I’m here. I’m almost on the top pound for pound and this fight nothing’s changed. I am focused on my opponent.
Of course, who knows? Maybe next week – next Saturday I’m going to finish Dustin Poirier and maybe I’m going to become pound for pound number one fighter. Who knows? Nobody knows.
Damon Martin: And last question, Khabib, I know your focus is 100% on Dustin Poirier, but I have to ask, if you are victorious, move to 28 and 0 next weekend, who do you believe is next in line for the title shot? Do you believe it’s Tony Ferguson? Is that the fight that would make the most sense in terms of your next title defense? Who deserves the next title shot?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Oh yes, only Tony Ferguson, of course. I think he deserve. Who else? Nobody.
Only Tony Ferguson, I think.
Damon Martin: Thank you, Khabib.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you so much.
Operator: Thank you. Again, if you find that your question has been answered you may remove yourself from the queue by pressing Star 2. And if you would like to queue up for question, press Star 1.
We will take our next question from Marc Raimondi from ESPN. Please go ahead.
Marc Raimondi: Hey, Khabib, how are you?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Hi how are you?
Marc Raimondi: Thank you for taking time out. I appreciate it. I just wanted to ask you quick about your traditional Dagestani headdress that you wear your papakha. How proud does it make you to kind of bring Dagestan culture to the world? Because that’s kind of almost become world renown now because you wear it so often.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: It’s honor to me to represent my traditional headgear around the world, my culture, my history because Dagestan has very big history, very big culture. It’s honor to me, because I
have opportunity. A lot of people know me and I want people know where I am from and I want to show people Dagestan, Dagestan culture, Dagestan history because they have very big history in Dagestan and if I have opportunity why not? Why not?
Marc Raimondi: I know that you didn’t start wearing the papakha until your first UFC fight in 2012. Why did you ultimately decide to do it and are you glad that you made the choice to wear it so often?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Why I wear this? Yes?
Marc Raimondi: Yes, because I know you didn’t wear it early on in your career, only until you got to UFC, so why did you decide to do it and are you happy that you’ve now done it?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, but before I didn’t have a nickname too. When I signed with UFC, my manager told me that you need a nickname because your name is a little bit hard for American people and you need something for fans to remember you, you know. Then my friends told me, why not, maybe you want to wear papakha because this is our culture and because UFC is very big stage and very big platform and you can show around the world our culture and why I bring nickname Eagle because eagle is a symbol from Dagestan and that’s why.
I just try to show, I just try to use this big platform and I think I’m very success on this because the last more than seven years I use this platform with my papakha in seven years, more than seven years, I keep undefeated. Now I’m undefeated and undisputed UFC lightweight champion and now everybody knows about papakha, everybody knows about Dagestan where I’m from. A lot of people know about Dagestan culture, the history and where this region is and you know I think my plan is working.
Marc Raimondi: And then this last thing from me, Dagestan has a long history of warriors, of fighters. Do you feel like you are kind of carrying on that legacy of the Dagestani warrior?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I think yes. They have big history, really big history. I think I feel I am part of the Dagestan history. But I don’t know now, I think after like 20, maybe 40, maybe 50 years later people going to understand what I did. Right now, maybe no. But I think in future, people are going to remember my name because I don’t think I did great job, but I feel like I do not bad job for all Dagestani young.
Marc Raimondi: Thank you, Khabib, appreciate it. Good luck next week.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you so much.
Operator: Thank you. We’ll take our next question from Nolan King, from MMA Junkie. Please go ahead.
Nolan King: Hey Khabib, I really appreciate you taking the time out today. First thing from me, fighting in Abu Dhabi, obviously a very large Muslim population there, what kind of atmosphere are you expecting on the walk out when you make your walk next Saturday?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Honestly, I don’t know because all the time when I fight in UFC I didn’t have almost 100% support in stadium. But right now, I think I’m going to feel this because I feel this is my area, this is not Dustin Poirier’s area. These people don’t come to watch fight because of Dustin. These people come because of me.
That’s why I feel I’m going to have big, big support from my friends here in Middle East. A lot of people are going to come from USSR countries, Russia, from Dagestan, from the Arabic countries. A lot of people are going to come support me and thank you so much for them.
I can’t wait. You know, I’m very excited about this feeling. And I think it’s going to be my night inshallah.
Nolan King: And something else that’s unique about this event it’s the day – it’s streamed in the day here in the United States on Pay Per View, the UFC has been hesitant about putting big stars on Pay Per View overseas and Europe and Russia. Do you feel like with this card happening, with you headlining a show that streams in the United States during the day that it opens up the door for a potential title defense in Russia down the line?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I don’t know answer – this is a little bit hard question for me, we have to watch because long time UFC didn’t make Pay Per View show in this region, in Abu Dhabi, in this region. This is a little bit hard question, but we’ll see. I think UFC wants to watch too about numbers, because everything about numbers. They’re going to watch, they’re going to check and I think they’re going to check. We’ll see now, because right now Pay Per View working a little bit different and it’s big, big question, you know. Big, big question.
If me and Dustin show like maybe 700,000 or 600,000 Pay Per Views, it’s going to be good, I think. But we’ll see, we’ll see. For me it’s interesting too, how much Pay Per View we’re going to show.
Nolan King: Sure thing. And last question for me, we’re in an era where a lot of champions as soon as they win their belt they already start talking about moving divisions, super fights and what not. While you welcome new comers – all comers leading up to since you won the belt, do you feel like you have a certain obligation to defend your title before you make any types of switches like that?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I think if you want to improve your legacy, changing your weight classes – I don’t think this is help for you. I think the one thing that is helpful for you is you have to beat tough opponents and you have to worry about when you beat tough opponents and you’re still undefeated more than 11 years. I think this one can improve your legacy.
If you lose a couple times in UFC and you win one title or second title then you lose again, even if you win three title, this does not make you great.
My opinion, when you are undefeated long time and when you never lose, this one is like, this one is real, real thing. This is my opinion.
Doesn’t matter what people think, doesn’t matter what they want. When you go to the cage and again, again, again you win, win, win, they have to talk about you know this guy is best, you know and I don’t focus on welterweight or featherweight. My focus is lightweight division.
I am real lightweight and my fight is going to be in light division, I don’t change any weight classes; I want to focus on my weight division.
Nolan King: Awesome. Thanks for the time, Khabib.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from Jay Adams from Stadium Network. Please go ahead.
Jay Adams: Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Mm-hm.
Jay Adams: Khabib you and Poirier have a common opponent – actually two common opponents, Michael Johnson and Conor McGregor. How much stock do you put in the fact that you’re able to stop both those guys, and both those guys were able to finish Poirier via punches. How much of that do you weigh when you’re handicapping, when you’re studying tape? How heavy a factor is that for you?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Honestly, I don’t think about this because after these fights, Poirier improved a lot. Now he – I believe – I think he is a completely different fighter. This is striking matchup Poirier vs Michael Johnson and Conor vs. Poirier it was striking match. Okay, if Poirier catch him, Poirier can knock them out. If these guys catch him, anything can happen.
But me vs. Poirier is a completely different match-up because I’m not going to stand with him, and he know this and you know right now, Poirier completely different fighter you know? I don’t think about this, about all these fights.
Jay Adams: If I may follow-up, with so many wins and no losses in other sports with other athletes they can become complacent. What do you do to avoid becoming complacent? How do you maintain your intensity?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I just stay focused, train always hard and…train always hard and I don’t know. I have inside this, if you don’t have this, this is very hard to find, I have inside this fire. I am very competitive. I want to fight with best guys in the world and that’s why I’m here.
If I feel, I don’t want any more compete, I’m going to finish. Right now, I feel this hungry, I feel this motivation, this fire and that’s why I stay focused.
Everything about inside, what you feel. If you feel like you want to compete with all these fighters and you can, why not? I want to stay busy. I want to stay hungry. I want to stay focused, humble. This is the key.
Jay Adams: One follow – one last question for me. And thank you Khabib. Would you say given the level of opponents that Dustin has had up till now and with, he really seems to be ripening at just the right time and it seems, you know you hear that old adage, my time has come. He seems to really be peaking right around now. Would it be safe to say this will be your toughest challenger to date?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Right now, when I watch Dustin Poirier I think it’s going to be my toughest challenge. I always think like this. Even when I fight with Darrell Horcher, I think okay this guy is my toughest challenge. I don’t want to make a mistake; I don’t want to underestimate this guy. I think a lot of people underestimate his ground game. I think he has good ground game, Dustin. He has good grappling, he has a good old school style. But he’s not bad on the ground, he’s not bad on feet, his kicking, his kneeing, his punching, his footwork, he’s very good fighter. I think it’s going to be very tough fight for me.
I’m ready for this, like almost 100 days – last 100 days I trained so hard for this fight. Now only one week before the fight and I’m still focused. We’re almost there, the fight is around the corner and I’m very focused on Dustin Poirier, I’m not underestimating this guy.
Jay Adams: Thank you, sir.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you.
Operator: And we’ll take our next question from Jeffrey Harris from 411Mania MMA. Please go ahead.
Jeffrey Harris: Good morning. Thank you Khabib for joining us today. I really appreciate the time. Are there any concerns at all over the travel arrangements for Abu Dhabi and dealing with the heat and the temperature at all?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: No, before I come here a lot of times, I can feel this temperature, climate is different, that’s why I come here almost 20 days before the fight. That’s why, right now almost 10 days I’m here, feel great, my jet lag is finish, my weight is good. I feel very good energy and I love this place. I love this place and I can wait to show for this place very good show next Saturday.
Jeffrey Harris: Khabib, are you excited to come back because there has, there was the suspension issue. So, does it make you more excited to come back and prove to the world what a great champion you are?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes of course, I’m very excited about my comeback. You know, honestly my plan was after October fight, my plan was I really want to fight in April and everybody knows what happened. But right now, it’s like September, okay, it’s not bad. But before I guess I show you guys how I come back after.
But right now, is like all this year I stay busy, I stay training, I stay focused, hungry and my shape is is very good right now, alhamdulillah. I’m going to show good performance next Saturday.
Jeffrey Harris: And last question for Khabib, since Conor McGregor is on ESPN making noise about not being retired anymore, in April of last year he and his entourage did try to attack you on that bus. Is there ever any concern that he and his entourage might come after you again and try to assault you in a bus or something like that again?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Honestly, I don’t understand what you ask about. This guy, like when he win the last time? Why you keep talking about this guy? This guy don’t train for more than three years, you know. You keep talking about this guy. I don’t want to keep talking about him. We have Dustin Poirier, we have a lot of stuff, let’s talk about real stuff.
Operator: We will take our next question from Sergio Gomez from Diario MMA. Please go ahead.
Sergio Gomez: Hi, Khabib, how are you doing? Thank you for taking the time to do this. I was wondering how special does it feel to finally have your father on the corner with you while you are the champion?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, this is very important for me, finally my father is in the corner with me, I’m very excited about this. I feel how my father’s excited about this. This is going to be great, great night for us, my father and Coach Javier, a very good mix. Two great coaches and I think with these two guys, I have to win. This is very important and next Saturday I can take.
Sergio Gomez: Okay, and does it feel any more pressure on you for having your father there, plus having the support of the whole arena, because like you mentioned, probably Dustin is not very popular around there. Does that make you feel any more pressure?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, a little bit pressure. I feel good energy. I feel good energy and at the same time I feel pressure. Same time I feel pressure and father all the time give me good energy, because it is not only my coach, he is my father first of all. I feel a little bit pressure and sometimes I feel great energy. We’ll see, we’ll see. If I say, if I say I don’t feel pressure – it’s not true. Of course I feel pressure. I don’t make upset my father, first time he is going to be cornering with me. It’s very exciting and a very important time for me.
Sergio Gomez: Okay then, finally what does it feel to have also your teammates that were suspended being able to fight on the same card as you?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, Islam – Islam Makhachev fight, he had very good fight. I think very interesting fight for fans, Davi Ramos, he ADCC Champion. He has four win streak in the lightweight division, Islam have five win streak. These two guys, I think they deserve being in top 15 – top 10 you know. These two very tough guys in lightweight division and they’re going to fight this is – for me, most interesting fight in this card.
And Tukhugov is going to come back versus an undefeated fighter from I think England and is going to be very interesting for me too, and very exciting for me. Because when your two real close brothers fighting of course you know who is going to win. And this has given me a little bit pressure
but I hope they’re going to give me good energy before my fight, they’re going to win inshallah and then I’m going to do my job, like I do always inshallah.
This is the plan, when you go to the cage, we all have same goal, we have to win.
Sergio Gomez: Okay, thank you, Khabib so much. Good luck on defending title.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Operator: We will take our last question in today’s Q&A session. From Cole Shelton form Sherdog. Please go ahead.
Cole Shelton: Hi Khabib, thanks for doing this. Really appreciate it.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Hi, how are you?
Cole Shelton: Your dad said about a year ago he wanted to see you retire in a year. Like, have you talked to him about it? How much longer do you see yourself competing for?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Good question, you know, good question. Not yet, not yet. But I have to fight, you know, I’m not young fighter, I’m not prospect, I already UFC champion. I defend my title. This is my second defense, of course I don’t have a lot of fights ahead because I don’t want to fight when I’m 40 years old, this is not my plan. We’ll see, we’ll see.
But before I make this decision, I have to talk with my father. I have to talk with Coach Javier. All my brothers, management team, Dominance MMA with all people around me. I cannot make this decision alone, but right now I am focused on competition because I have too much fire inside.
Cole Shelton: But just another one, too, one of your close friends and teammates in DC lost about two weeks ago. Has that, like, well how much of an impact has that had on your team, like, him losing? Just because you guys aren’t – always see videos of you two always hanging out, what was the impact of him losing?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: When DC lose, it was very sad moment for us. Same time Cain Valesquez lost his mother and after a couple days DC lost his father. It was a little bit hard week for all AKA team, but it is what it is, you know? When God wants something, nobody can change it.
Losing belt is nothing when you lose your father or mother. When you lose belt, of course this is sad, but when you lose your father this is completely different story. We feel bad for him, but we know how DC is competitor, how DC is strong. I want to wish him good luck and we just talked with him a couple of days ago, we talked with him. We talked about my fight, we talked about his fight, about his father.
I just try to give to him ((inaudible)) you know, now he has very hard time in his life, but time changes everything. I know he’s like going to be good. And I really want his fight with Stipe Miocic revenge and finish his career, this is what I want.
I don’t know about his plans, but honestly I want to fight, I want to try maybe February or March and fight with him, last fight and finish.
Cole Shelton: Just last question, I know in the ESPN interview that just got out today, you said Poirier doesn’t have that one punch knockout power. So we’ve seen you stand with Iaquinta. So are you standing with a bit for Poirier, os that a realistic chance in this fight?
Khabib Nurmagomedov: All fights beginning in stand up, on feet, you know. And then you’re going to watch what I’m going to do. Of course, I want to feel his speed, I want to feel his power. When fight
is beginning, we’re beginning on standup and then we will see what I’m going to do. Nobody’s knows and fight is fight. My plan is finish this guy. This is what I want and we’ll see.
Cole Shelton: All right Khabib, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Thank you so much.
Operator: That ends our question and answer session for today. I’d like to turn the conference back over to Vicky Coghlan for any closing remarks.
Vicky Coghlan: Thank you so much everyone for joining today. So if you are traveling to Abu Dhabi next week we of course welcome you to the UAE for what will be a very special fight week. Thank you everyone.