Khabib Nurmagomedov has spoken about his relationship with pressure and how he manages to maintain a healthy level of motivation whilst at the top of the game.
Nurmagomedov is considered by many to be the greatest lightweight fighter in the history of the sport and unless something drastic happens to the betting lines, the bookies should no doubt have him as a big favourite coming into his UFC 242 showdown with Dustin Poirier.
It’s not even a knock on Poirier, the Russian is simply that dominant.
And while the fight is one that will have massive ramifications for the 155lb division as a whole, there is, of course, the expectation that the relationship that will exist between these two will not compare to the one shared between the champ and Conor McGregor in terms of its volatile nature.
Speaking in a recent interview with RT Today, Khabib explained how such things are in no way necessary when you’re looking to get your head in the right place.
“It’s not really necessary to have a verbal conflict to be motivated.
“Motivation can be sporting, and I have that, why not? When you go there and compete with [another] man – it doesn’t matter if it’s a fight, a sports competition or [sparring] in a gym. Motivation is always there, and I still have it.
“I’m not a 50-year-old. I do not have problems with motivation.
“Whether I have it or not – you’ll see on September 7. As an opponent I don’t underestimate him, he’s a good opponent, a very good fighter. He has the interim title, so I don’t have any problems with motivation.
“There’s a little less than two months left [until the fight]. The main thing for me is to be in good physical shape so I can fight for 25 minutes, or even all night long if necessary. That’s the main thing. But whoever my opponent is, or if there’s a verbal conflict – it doesn’t make any difference.”
UFC 242 will be one of the year’s biggest fight cards, an event that will see Khabib enter with a massive level of support from the Abu Dhabi crowd – headlining a card bolstered by several of his friends and sparring partner.
Nurmagomedov’s potential as a global star will be put to the test here but in his own mind, none of it matters once the octagon doors close.
“Yes, there will be [friends and teammates there], it will be a distraction. When your friends and close ones are fighting it does distract you.
“But I hope they’ll give me some positive energy before my fight by winning (their fights), and not upsetting me. Because when your close friends are losing, of course it upsets you.
“The main thing for them is to motivate me for my victory. We’re hoping only for victory. In our team, or any other fighters who enter the octagon, no one wants to lose. So I hope we’re all going to win.”