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Dustin Poirier: 'I'll be the first real fight Conor McGregor's ever been in'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor’s victory over Diego Brandao on Saturday in Dublin had more than a few of his fellow featherweights smashing their fists into their palms. The one doing it loudest, though, was Dustin Poirier, who has grown tired of the Irishman’s shtick.

Poirier has been very vocal on Twitter about wanting to fight McGregor next, tagging Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White in his request, and even proffering a specific date and time (UFC 178 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas).

Two days after McGregor’s successful homecoming in Ireland, a heated-up Poirier appeared on the Monday edition of The MMA Hour to explain why he wants to derail the hype train so bad.

"Right off the bat I’ve been fired up about this guy," he told host Ariel Helwani. "I’ve been in this division since the WEC merged. I’ve paid my dues, and I’ve stayed quiet and busted my ass, day in, day out, won the fights I needed to win, and I’ve had some tough fights. I feel I need to be up there. I need to be up there where people are talking about me. [McGregor’s] name and the featherweight title should never come out of anybody’s mouth. I can’t believe the hype he’s getting."

The charismatic McGregor has been a pot-stirrer in the division since last year when he beat Max Holloway in Boston. In the meantime, as he recovered from ACL sugery, he went down the list of featherweights and issued insults or dismissive thoughts about each within the top ten, including Poirier, whom he called a "peahead."

Though Poirier is farther along in the UFC rankings than McGregor, he says that since he’s had trouble getting a top five opponent, the next best thing is fighting The Next Best Thing. 

"To tell you the honest truth, I think I should be fighting Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Cub Swanson again…I should be fighting the top guys," he said. "But, I’ve asked for those fights and haven’t got them. So what should I do?"

Because Poirier has been vocal in challenging who right now he considers an over-hyped media (and UFC) darling, he’s been getting a lot of backlash on social media.

"[The Irish fans] definitely are passionate about their guys, and I don’t know if Twitter has a limit of blocks you can do, but I’ve got to be close to it," he said. "Because man, I’ve been getting so many hate messages and this and that, and that’s cool. Build him up. It’s going to be that much sweeter when I stand over him. This guy is not who you think he is. I’m the man in this division, and I’ve very confident in my skills and I feel more dangerous than ever.

"This guy said he’s going to take everyone’s head off, well come get it Conor. I’m waiting. I’m ready. I want it to be a five-round fight. I want to show my heart in this fight. I want him to show his. And I’m going to be victorious, I know it."

Of course, if it were to be a five-round fight, that would mean it couldn’t take place at UFC 178, which will be headlined by Alexander Gustafsson-Jon Jones II. When told this, Poirier said he’s flexible.

"I don’t think I’m going to need three rounds to do it, or five rounds to do it, so it can happen wherever the UFC wants it to happen, but like I said, I want the big fights, the top five guys," he said. "I want the title. But these hands are working hands, and sometimes you’ve got to get them dirty. And I’ll go to the back of the line to clean this guy up."

McGregor exacerbated the feud in the UFC Fight Night 46 post-fight press conference at the O2 Arena by saying that Poirier knew about Cole Miller’s injury -- the one that forced him out of the originally slated fight -- before the UFC did. Poirier cleared the air on that, and said he was never offered to fill in for Miller by the UFC, as some people believed.

"People have been messaging me that a lot, too, you had your chance, why did you stay quiet and all that," he said. "Bro, Cole Miller trains at a bunch of American Top Teams in Florida. I see the guy once, twice a week at max -- sometimes I don’t even see him. I had no idea. I found out the way everybody else found out when he was injured.

"I was not even approached. I called my manager and I said, what’s up man, do I need to start cutting weight right now? He said let me find out. Boom, Diego was already picked, and it was already done."

Poirier said he would have taken the fight, if it had been offered. If given his druthers now, he said he would still choose to rematch Cub Swanson, which he deems the bigger fight.

When asked if he considered McGregor a top ten fighter in the 145-pound division, Poirier didn’t need to ponder it.

"No, no," he said. "Not even top ten. I will be the first real fight he’s ever been in."

With both McGregor and Poirier willing to fight, it’s up to the UFC matchmakers to decide whether or not to book it, and to assign the stakes. The 25-year old Poirier is hovering near the top of the division, but he said even though he’d want it to be a No. 1 contender’s bout, he doesn’t think McGregor has the merit to make it one.

Poirier says it’s strictly a vendetta fight against a guy who need to be taken down a notch.

"I feel like he’s disrespecting the whole featherweight division, and nobody’s going to step up and put this guy down and shut him up?" he said. "The UFC is my house. I built where I’m at from the ground up, man, and nobody’s going to come in here walking around talking that trash."

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