Morning Report: Javier Mendez says if Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired, Dustin Poirier deserves first title shot


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Early this week, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov stated that he believes the winner of the upcoming bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will become the new lightweight champion. Nurmagomedov’s statement left some room for interpretation as to whether he meant the two would be fighting for his vacated title, or would go on to win the belt when the UFC finally does vacate it, but the end result appears to be the same and it’s that Khabib thinks the winner of Poirier vs. McGregor is the top lightweight in the sport, once he’s no longer around. And his coach, Javier Mendez seems to agree.

Speaking on The Schmozone podcast this week, Mendez agreed with Nurmagomedov’s sentiment and said that if Khabib really is done, the UFC is at least moving in the right direction by having Poirier in line for the belt.

“Let’s face it, if in fact he’s not coming back, and we know that for a fact – and I don’t know that – but if in fact he’s not, then the rightful person that should be fighting for the title is Dustin against anybody,” Mendez said. “So to me, they got one of the right persons in there. Conor would be the second right one, or it could be Justin Gaethje or it could be Michael Chandler. It doesn’t matter. Or (Charles) Oliveira. What matters is that Dustin is in the title hunt because he’s the one that, in my opinion, is most deserving of a title shot.”

Khabib and his team have had a great deal of respect for Poirier, even leading up to their fight at UFC 242, and Khabib often said that if he were to defend his title after the Gaethje bout, it would only be against someone who had beaten Poirier. Now, Poirier is lined up for a fight that many have speculated will be for the vacant title but thus far, the UFC has rejected that notion, insisting that no belt will be on the line. That could be as part of an effort to incentivize Khabib back for one more title defense, but according to Mendez, if that’s the goal, the UFC is wasting its time, because he’s only returning for the superfight that got away, and even that can only happen if Khabib’s mother gives the go-ahead.

“I don’t know, because we never talked about it, but I can only tell you this. His father, his vision was for Khabib to fight GSP and retire at 30-0. So if Dana anything to do with anything, it isn’t a boatload of money because I don’t believe that’s gonna be the case. It would be something to the effect of something that very much interests him. So maybe a GSP fight. I don’t know, I’m guessing.

“But in order for that to happen, he’d have to go to the No. 1 person that he promised he would retire (to), and that would be his mother, not me. I’m on board for whatever he wants to do. So he’d have to clear it with his mother if he wants to do anything.”

Which, inevitably brings us back to the question of whether or not Nurmagomedov is actually retired. Since announcing his exit from the sport after UFC 254, Khabib hasn’t wavered in his decision, but UFC President Dana White has been equally as adamant that he can bring the lightweight GOAT back for one more fight. And perhaps he can, but Mendez isn’t sold, mostly for the simple reason that it would be out of character for Khabib.

“I can only go by what’s in the media and what he’s been saying,” Mendez said. “When have we known him to not do what he’s said? I don’t know, I can’t recall a time he’s said something and didn’t mean it.”

Poirier and McGregor are set to rematch at UFC 257 on Jan. 23 on Fight Island and Nurmagomedov is expected to be in attendance.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


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