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UFC 242: Khabib returns to form in Abu Dhabi, submits Poirier in 3

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It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the cage and Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, he proved once again he isn’t losing anything.

Still, technically suspended in the United States for his actions after his win last year over Conor McGregor, “The Eagle” smashed UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier, taking him down repeatedly, beating him up, and finally submitting him with a rear naked choke in the third round to unify the world lightweight title. It’s just another win in what is becoming a historic unbeaten streak as Nurmagomedov advanced to 28-0 in his professional MMA career and notched his twelfth straight UFC win.

Poirier started out in the first round strong, landing good kicks to the legs and ribs and avoiding his kicks being turned into takedowns. Once Khabib did get ahold of him, “The Diamond” seemed to not worry about stopping takedowns and instead worked on getting up. But Khabib just kept taking him down and closed the round very strong, mounting Poirier and pounding him with huge shots.

Dustin’s best moment came early in the second round, when while switching stances he caught Khabib with a long straight right hand that backed him across the cage.

Dustin did his pursue and follow up, but the champion was able to create enough distance until he could go back to taking Dustin down again and again. The interim champion had no answers for Khabib’s ground game and instead just tried getting on his feet, which resulted in massive punishment from the former combat Sambo world champion.

Clearly facing desperation in the 3rd round, Dustin jumped to a guillotine when Khabib tried to take him down early. It was a solid and valiant attempt, but Khabib was able to work his way out and get on top. Dustin then exposed his back and attempt to get up and Khabib seized on this time, going from a neck crank into a rear naked choke and Dustin tapped in short order. The official time was 2:06 of Round 3.

It’s clear that the most legitimate challenger for Khabib now remains Tony Ferguson, the former interim champion who has also has 12 UFC wins in a row and whom Khabib has been booked to face four times without the fight actually happening. The cursed nature of that matchup leads to instant rejection from many MMA fans and pundits, but it also feels like the fight that absolutely must happen. Of course, the lure of a rematch with Conor McGregor, and the millions of dollars it would generate is still out there like a siren’s song, but for now Khabib Nurmagomedov is secure in his place as the best lightweight in the world today, and maybe the best lightweight ever…

"Frank has been a wrestling fan since he was two years old. (Don't worry, he's got proof.) He's also a huge boxing and UFC fan and has a long standing love affair with Popeyes Chicken. He still owns a VHS copy of the first Ring of Honor show ever and was watching NXT before it was cool (or good). Bret Hart > Shawn Michaels. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightFanaticPod and on Tumblr at FrankTheFightFanatic." He's also starting his own podcast soon!

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