Dustin Poirier (right) defeated Conor McGregor (left) at UFC 257
Photo: NY Times
On January 23rd a shocking upset occurred, when the improbable Dustin Poirier (27-6-0) defeated Conor McGregor (22-5-0) at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. The fight was a rematch between the two, after Mcgregor won the first.McGregor was around a -300 odds on favorite across the board in Vegas while Poirier was hovering around +240. Even more impressive, it was the first time McGregor had been knocked out professionally and it occurred in just the second round.
Poirier is now the #1 ranked UFC lightweight fighter as well as the interim champion and all eyes will be on who he will fight next. Khabib Nurmagomedov currently holds the lightweight belt but retired at UFC 254 with an undefeated 29-0 record, leaving potential championship plans for Poirier up in the air. Nurmagomedov previously defeated Poirier back in 2019 and doesn’t sound like he will come back anytime soon to defend his title against Poirier.
At some point UFC president Dana White will have to make a decision about what to do with the lightweight belt but in the meantime there are a number of opponents Poirier could face next, including a potential rematch with McGregor.
In a post-fight interview, Poirier gave some of his thoughts about who he might fight next.
He nearly outright dismissed any chance of fighting Michael Chandler (22-5-0) saying, “I can guarantee I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler. They...they can do whatever they want with the division I don’t really care but if something happens that makes sense and we’ll do it but…”
When asked about Charles Oliveira (30-8-0) Poirier said, “He’s fought the best of the best, over and over again.”
Poirier added, “He’s proven himself and he’s proven what mixed martial arts and what perseverance and what believing in yourself is. I respect that”
When asked who he believed was more deserving of a title shot between Justin Gaethje (22-3-0) and Oliveira, Poirier indicated he believed it was Oliveira because he hasn’t had the opportunity yet. Poirier also seemed open to fighting the winner of a potential match between Gaethje and Oliveira.
Poirier also said he felt that he was the rightful champion of the lightweight division saying, “I came out and put on a fight of the year for you guys. Got my hand raised against the top five after that. Then I come in here and Khabib doesn’t want to come back and I knock out..one of the biggest fights you can get, I knocked this guy out too. Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight anymore, dude I’m the champ.”