Dustin Poirier is coming off arguably the biggest win of his career to date — on the biggest stage possible. Meanwhile, Michael Chandler had one of the most impressive UFC debuts in recent memory.
According to Poirier, these things are not the same. “The Diamond” avenged a 2014 loss to Conor McGregor in the UFC 257 headliner on Saturday night, as he stopped the Irish superstar via technical knockout in the second round to put himself in prime position for a lightweight title opportunity. Chandler, a long-time Bellator MMA star, scored a first-round stoppage of Dan Hooker in the evening’s co-main event to insert himself into the championship discussion as well.
With Khabib Nurmagomedov looking less and less likely to return by the day, the promotion’s 155-pound belt should be up for grabs in the near future. Poirier is almost virtually assured of being part of that equation. However, he knows one opponent he isn’t interested in facing next.
“I can guarantee I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler,” Poirier said at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “They can do whatever they want with the division. I don’t really care. If something makes sense, then we’ll do it.”
While Poirier is willing to give Chandler his due, he doesn’t believe the former Bellator champion has compiled the resume inside the Octagon necessary to warrant such a high-profile matchup.
“I’ve just been putting in work. That’s why I’m sitting here feeling like I can talk about it, because I’ve been in the division and the UFC for a long time, fighting the best of the best of the best,” Poirier said. “No disrespect to [Chandler], he seems like a good husband, a good father, he speaks well, has a lot of respect, carries himself very well. It’s not a knock against him. It’s just my feelings toward the division and the sport. I lost to Khabib [at UFC 242], I came out and put on a ‘Fight of the Year’ [vs. Hooker] for you guys, got my hand raised against a top-five opponent after that. Then I come in there and Khabib doesn’t want to come back, then I knock out one of the biggest fights you can get. I knock this guy out, too.
“Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight any more – dude, I’m the champ. I’m not going to fight, some – and like I said, respect to Chandler – a new guy to the UFC who just beat a guy that’s coming off a loss that I just beat for the belt. That’s not exciting to me.”
If Poirier gets to vie for the lightweight crown in his next Octagon appearance, he points to Charles Oliveira — a longtime UFC veteran currently on an eight-fight winning streak that recently includes a dominant win over Tony Ferguson — as someone who he feels is a more deserving adversary.
“I think he has more [of a case],” Poirier said. “I’ve been watching that guy for 10 years in the UFC, two different weight classes. He’s fought the best of the best, over and over again. And, he’s been knocked down and gotten up, and he’s proven what MMA and perseverance is. I respect that. Not that I don’t respect Michael Chandler. I just think there’s more work for him to do than beat a guy I just beat.”
If not Oliveira, Poirier wouldn't mind setting up a trilogy with McGregor or tracking down Nate Diaz, whom he was briefly scheduled to face at UFC 244 in November 2019.
“A rematch with Conor interests me,” Poirier said. “Always wanted to whip Nate Diaz’s ass. That interests me. In fighting, I’m sure something will make sense. But just right now, I don’t … me and Conor are one and one. Nate Diaz got away and likes to talk a lot of s--t online. I just gotta go back home and we’ll see.”
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