For Dustin Poirier, it was an easy decision to choose a trilogy with Conor McGregor over a lightweight title fight.
"If I am the best in the world, then I'm gonna beat Conor and fight for the belt. It's like doubling down on yourself,” Poirier told ESPN. “I’m a gambling man. I believe in my skills and fighting. So I just doubled down. That’s what it was.”
It seemed like a virtual certainty that “The Diamond” would be next in line to fight for the vacant lightweight crown after defeating McGregor via second-round technical knockout at UFC 257 in January. However, Poirier opted for the trilogy with the Irish star over a title bout, and Charles Oliveira claimed the throne with a stoppage of Michael Chandler at UFC 262.
“I don’t know how much you want to get into the actual contractual stuff with this, but me fighting for the belt, I wouldn’t have got pay-per-view [points]. I”d have got a base salary of probably not even a third of my base salary for this fight,” Poirer said. “It just doesn’t make sense. I’m a prize fighter. … If I’m gonna make five, six, seven, 10 times the amount of money to fight, I’m a father, I’m a husband and I have priorities.”
When Poirier and McGregor initially squared off at UFC 178 in 2014, the SBG Ireland representative was able to get into his opponent’s head, and that led to a first-round stoppage victory. The two rivals were much more cordial leading up to the rematch, however, but Poirier expects that McGregor might change his approach during UFC 264 fight week.
“The good thing about this one is if it’s crazy Conor again, I just don’t give a f—k anymore,” Poirier said. “I really don’t care. And in the last one too, if he’d have been crazy, I’d have been all right … I think it’s gonna be crazy Conor again, I’m pretty sure. How crazy can you be? You got knocked out last time. We put you on airplane mode in front of the world, in Abu Dhabi. What can you say?”
Poirier’s outlook on the trilogy fight aligns with the common opinion. If McGregor is unable to get the quick finish, Poirier expects he’ll be able to impose his will the longer it goes.
“If I was [Conor McGregor], I would try to touch me early and keep me out of rhythm,” Poirier said. “Because if this thing starts to blossom into a fight — second, third, fourth [round] — we start hurting in there, we start having to grind it out, we start getting a rhythm, I win that fight 10 out of 10 times.”