Dustin Poirier rejected a title shot to cash in on his trilogy with Conor McGregor… now he can bank on a FOURTH fight with the Irishman – but a scrap for the belt against Charles Oliveira will be next for ‘Diamond’
- Dustin Poirier’s victory by doctor’s stoppage left a sour taste in the mouth
- He will have felt he was well on top before Conor McGregor broke his leg
- Irishman has undergone surgery and all signs point to a fourth fight
- But next up for ‘Diamond’ is likely to be a title shot at Charles Oliveira
How can a trilogy win over Conor McGregor leave such a sour taste in the mouth?
Just when you think there will finally be a resolution, a winner of the best of three, the MMA Gods intervene.
Dustin Poirier will feel he was well on his way to UFC immortality by finishing the Notorious for a second time in the main event at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
Dustin Poirier dominated the first round against Conor McGregor but was denied a clean win
A broken tibia forced the fight to a stop and their will be a fourth encounter down the line
Poirier won by TKO after the doctor’s stoppage and will now fight for the title
But a freak leg break denied the American, fans, and the UFC, a conclusion to this rivalry.
You have to feel for Poirier. He pummelled with some heavy elbows and was brimming with confidence, the victory on paper is his and it went down as a TKO win.
But there will always be that nagging doubt in everyone’s mind. Would he have finished the job?
McGregor, in his extraordinary post-fight interview howled into the mic that he was ‘boxing the bleeding head off him and kicking the bleeding leg off him’.
He went on to yell: ‘This is not over! If I have to take this outside with him I will.’
We knew instantly that there will be a fourth fight. The narrative is still there and with all the Dubliner’s crass talk about Poirier’s wife, there’s even more bad blood now.
The dollar signs will be rolling down Dana White’s eyes but it is likely to take a while for McGregor to recover from the fractured tibia and return to full health.
The champion, Charles Oliveira, was in attendance and will face Poirier later this year
On Monday, he said: ‘Just out of the surgery room, everything went to plan, everything went perfect and I’m feeling tremendous. We’ve got six weeks on a crutch now and then we begin to build back.
‘A clean break of the tibia and it was not to be. Dustin, you can celebrate that illegitimate win all you want but you’ve done nothing in there. That second round would have shown all.’
Of course, Poirier could again say he will wait for McGregor rather than go for gold, but it would make little sense now.
At the post fight press conference, ‘Diamond’ said: ‘It sucks, man, because I was going to beat the guy if his leg would have held up.
‘I’ve had a lot of fights. There’s always been a definite end – well, besides the first Eddie Alvarez fight (a no contest) was kind of grey area.
‘But it’s not a good feeling. I won and I feel like what happened was because of something I did, but it’s not like I went out there and submitted him or put him away.’
McGregor was furious with the outcome and yelled at the officials to make it a no contest
That unsatisfying feeling and another boat load of cash is why a fourth fight has to happen but it should not be next.
Much like the UFC always have a third fight between McGregor and Nate Diaz in their back pocket, the Poirer vs McGregor IIII encounter is inevitable too.
But anything other than a shot at champion Charles Oliveira in his next bout would undermine the integrity of the competition.
Poirier has been the clear No 1 contender since Khabib Nurmagomedov retired and he knocked McGregor out in January.
To have him fight McGregor again, who has still only won once inside the octagon since 2016, would be the wrong option as his next challenge.
White confirmed as much on Saturday night, saying: ‘It sucks, it’s brutal, it’s not the way you want to see fights end.
McGregor said he was ‘boxing the ears and kicking the legs off Poirier’ in the first round
‘Dustin Poirier will fight for the title and when Conor’s healed and ready to go, he’ll do the rematch I guess. I don’t know.’
Oliveira seized his chance in the power vacuum at 155-pounds with a stunning victory over Michael Chandler to fulfil his dream and extend a scintillating winning run to nine on the trot back in May.
Poirier, who lost in his one previous title fight against Khabib, will recognise this is an opportunity to cement his legacy.
Oliveira, while incredibly technical and lethal on the ground, is beatable and the challenger will know that having his fourth fight against McGregor with a belt on the line would only heighten the occasion.
But a win over the Brazilian is far from a foregone conclusion and Poirier has plenty of respect for the 31-year-old.
He said: ‘He’s not just a guy in the division who happens to have the belt. He’s a guy who has picked himself up off the canvas time and time again, fought through adversity in two weight classes, been in the UFC a decade.
The American looked assured in the octagon and was on top before the fight was called
Oliveira overcame early adversity to defeat Michael Chandler back in May this year
‘He’s not just a guy with a belt. He’s earned every ounce of gold he has around his waist and I have nothing but respect for guys like that.
‘I don’t know him personally but his work history, I can’t hate on anything he’s done. It’s incredible.’
He added: ‘I respect someone like that who has climbed back up and won a world championship.’
As for McGregor, he has not fought regularly in the last few years and knows he will have to get back on the horse sooner rather than later once he’s recovered.
The division will move on. Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler, Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev are all among the hungry contenders pushing for their chance.
The post-Khabib landscape is compelling and a title fight between Oliveira and Poirier will be one to savour.
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