UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier steps into hostile territory this weekend when he tries to dethrone undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
Nurmagomedov will go into the fight as the firm favorite and will have vocal support behind him, but Poirier’s head coach at American Top Team, Mike Thomas Brown, believes all these factors just give his fighter more motivation to perform at his best.
Brown spoke to MMAFighting.com ahead of the highly-anticipated fight this weekend and said he and his team happily accept the underdog tag as it means all the pressure is on Poirier’s opponent:
“I really don’t think that stuff matters too much. At the end of the day two guys are going to step in a cage and it’s going to be locked. They’re going to be the ones fighting so the people in the crowd really don’t matter. In a weird kind of way for some fighters, I myself would like the feeling of being the underdog; it’s a bit motivating, it’s a bit challenging. It makes you fight even harder. There’s more pressure to be the guy who is the fan favorite. Everybody is there to see them, everybody expects them to win. There’s more pressure there than being on the other side of the coin where they’re against you and they don’t think much of you. Only good things can happen because Dustin is super talented and he’s as good as it gets.”
Brown said that Poirier is confident in his own skillset to get the job done against “The Eagle” and knows that his stamina and perseverance in the fight will give him the best chance of doing just that:
“He knows what he’s capable of. He’s confident in his abilities. He doesn’t need someone else to tell him how good he is. We know how good he is, so it won’t be a surprise to us. We know what he’s capable of and so does he, and that’s all that really matters. He’ll be confident and he’ll be able to go hard for 25 minutes. I don’t think a lot of guys have been able to do that [against Khabib] and I think it’s one of Dustin’s best attributes, his conditioning and his mental will.”