Las Vegas, July 3: Justin Gaethje can beat UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov if he follows a particular game plan, according to Dustin Poirier.
The undefeated Khabib is expected to return to the Octagon to face interim champion Gaethje in September, though an official announcement has not yet been made.
Poirier, the number two ranked lightweight in UFC after defeating Dan Hooker in a Fight of the Year contender in Las Vegas last weekend, knocked out Gaethje in April 2018 but was submitted by the Russian at UFC 242 last year.
Poirier explained how Gaethje can hand Khabib his first defeat in mixed martial arts.
"If Justin can keep his back off the fence, I believe he can out-scramble Khabib in the open," Poirier told TMZ Sports.
"He just has such a pedigree in collegiate wrestling and that open mat area is going to be where Justin shines in the wrestling.
"If Khabib can get him against the fence, I believe Justin will be in trouble, but we'll see if he can stick to the game plan.
"I would assume that's gonna be his game plan – to stay in the middle, make Khabib wrestle in the open and throw big punches."
Asked about his hopes of fighting for the lightweight belt in future, he added: "If I'm to get a title shot and Justin wins … it's more of a guaranteed lock for me to fight for the belt if Justin wins.
"I'm the last guy to beat him. I'm the only guy still in the organisation who beat him. So it would make a lot of sense. And, I know he wants that fight as well."
However, if a second fight with Khabib stood between him and the title, Poirier is confident he would be able to make the required adjustments to get the win.
"Every fight I watch of mine I can do things better. [I] always can do things better and execute the game plan better," he said.