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UFC announces Khabib-Poirier for Abu Dhabi return

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will face interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier this September at UFC 242 in the promotion's return to Abu Dhabi.

The undefeated Nurmagomedov (27-0) hasn't fought since last October's fourth round submission win over Conor McGregor that resulted in a post-fight melee fueled by a personal rivalry between both camps. Nurmagomedov was retroactively suspended for nine months by the Nevada Athletic Commission, but said he wouldn't compete until two of his teammates' year-long suspensions were up. Those suspensions just happened to be recently shortened by 35 days following a recommendation from NAC president Bob Bennett.

Poirier won the interim belt with a unanimous decision over Max Holloway at April's UFC 236. Since moving back to lightweight in 2015, Poirier is 9-1-0-1.

This will be UFC's third appearance in Abu Dhabi and their first since an April 2014 Fight Night event that drew 7,963 for a $1.8 million gate. Their first event was April 2010's UFC 112 at the Yas Island complex, headlined by then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia, a fight marred by Silva's lackluster peformance. The show drew 11,009 for a $3.5 million gate.

Last September, UFC owners Endeavor purchased back Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment's 10% stake in the UFC.