Khabib Nurmagomedov believes Conor McGregor needs a quick finish if he is to stand any chance of beating Dustin Poirier at UFC 264.
McGregor and Poirier headline the card in their hugely anticipated trilogy fight with the series currently tied at 1-1.
The Dubliner secured a first-round knockout win in their first meeting in 2014, then fighting at featherweight.
A rematch at lightweight in January saw Poirier exact revenge, stopping McGregor in the second round.
Nurmagomedov successfully defended the lightweight title against both men before retiring undefeated after 29 fights last year.
The Dagestan fighter believes that if McGregor starts the fight with the sort of intensity that saw him flatten Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds last year, then he will get the win.
However, if the bout goes beyond the first round, he tips Poirier to grind down the former featherweight and lightweight champion.
‘If it’s the first round (for a finish), I’d back Conor,’ Nurmagomedov told RT.
‘From the second round and further, then Dustin wins.’
WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury meanwhile is backing ‘Notorious’ to get the win in style on 24 July.
McGregor has lost two of his last three fights however and ‘The Gypsy King’ has warned his career could be over if he falls short again.
‘Well it is Conor McGregor’s final roll of the dice, if he loses this one it’s curtains, isn’t it?’ Fury said in an interview with UFC legend Michael Bisping.
‘I think he wins this fight, and I think he wins this fight in style as well.
‘With Conor you never know what he’s been doing, you never know what he’s been up to in training camps and all that.
‘From what I hear, he lives like a rockstar while he like a week away from his fight. You can’t do that.’
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