Last week the Ultimate Fighting Championship held a press event to promote the remaining fights of the year and threw a curve ball when it announced an explosive lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz at UFC 230 in New York.
Poirier is coming off an impressive knockout victory in his rematch against former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez last month and the win edged “The Diamond” ever closer to a title fight. However, with Conor McGregor’s legal troubles behind him for the moment and the possibility of a blockbuster fight between McGregor and champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looming, Poirier may have realized -- or been told -- that he did not have a realistic chance to be the next challenger.
Poirier’s opponent, Diaz, has not fought since his loss in a “Fight of the Night” against McGregor back in August of 2016. Diaz has been waiting in the wings for a financially attractive fight and it seems this potentially big pay-per-view card against a very game opponent is a match made in heaven.
Poirier believes the winner of his fight with Diaz will be first in line to fight the winner of Nurmagomedov and McGregor sometime in 2019. However, a potential wrench was thrown in the works when on Monday, former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St. Pierre told Submission Radio that he would be interested in fighting the winner of the lightweight title fight for the chance to become the first fighter in UFC history to earn belts in three different divisions.
Poirier was a guest on the recent episode of The MMA Hour and shot down the notion that “GSP” will cut in line for the next shot at the 155 pound title.
“Nah, it’s not happening,” Poirier said. “Look, after I beat Nate Diaz, I’m fighting for the belt. Or I’m fighting GSP, but he’s not going to get [a title shot] before I do.”
Poirier has been on a tear since moving up to lightweight and has notable stoppage wins over Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis and Yancy Medeiros.
St. Pierre vacated the middleweight title last year after returning from a four-year layoff to beat the middleweight champion at the time Michael Bisping at UFC 217. The 37 year-old has said in the past he will only return to fight someone that will add to his legacy and a fight against the winner of the lightweight belt certainly qualifies for that.
“I would be interested in that fight,” St. Pierre said. “That’s a win-win situation. It’s a legacy upgrade and it’s good money — it’s gonna be a big fight. Yeah. However, I fought at 170, I relinquished a title. I fought at 185, I relinquished a title. I don’t think UFC will let me fight for the title at 155. They will be afraid I relinquish and I left the division in ruins. From my perspective, it’s a very winning situation. For UFC, it’s a big risk for them. Like I said, I’m older. I know Khabib, I’ve met Khabib many times. Khabib is actually bigger than me. He’s a bigger guy.”
Poirier believes he’ll have earned his shot at the belt if he can get past Diaz after thriving in the hyper-competitive 155 pound division.
“When I beat Nate Diaz and it’s my turn to fight for that belt, when I win that belt, when history looks back at all of this, nobody can ever say I didn’t earn anything,” Poirier said. “I never took the easy route. I’ve always fought the best guys. I’ve never pulled out of a fight. I’ve never missed weight. I’ve put it all on the line every time, win, lose, or draw, and that’s what I want to be left behind in my legacy. A guy who just pushed through it all and kept at it and stayed true to the path, and this is all part of my legacy.”