Fresh off his Fight of the Year contender win over Justin Gaethje on Saturday night in the main event of UFC on FOX 29, Poirier appeared on Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour. And the American Top Team competitor says that he was offered a bout with Alvarez at UFC 223, with the idea both fighters would also be on standby in case there was a fallout in the original main event of Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Poirier accepted, and says that Alvarez declined, which means he very well might have cost himself a chance to step in when Ferguson had to pull out with a freak knee injury a week before the card.
“Me and Eddie were offered a rematch on that Brooklyn show that Tony and Khabib were on,” Poirier said. “And my management told me that pretty much they’re probably trying to book this fight because if they fall out, one of you are going to replace them. I accepted the fight. Eddie turned it down. This was months ago. We could have been on that card, Eddie’s ranked higher than me, he probably would have fought for the belt a couple weekends ago.”
Poirier also said that this wasn’t the only time he was offered the bout, which would mark a rematch of their contentious no-contest at UFC 211, in which Poirier could not continue after an illegal knee to the head, for which Alvarez was not disqualified.
“It was offered a bunch of times, man,” Poirier said. “There were a bunch of cards that they offered the fight on. I accepted every time they offered it, Eddie turned it down every time. I think it was five times.”
There’s clearly ill will left over from the aftermath of the first fight.
“The things that he said after our fight, just the way he acted, I tried to stand up for the man and tell the crowd stop booing him not a dirty fighter, have some respect for the man,” Poirier said. “... Just way he acted after that. Saying that I was trying to milk the knee, he tweeted me “are you finally off your stool yet’ just all kinds of stuff like that that was very disrespectful. This isn’t a bar fight. You don’t knee somebody in the head and expect the guy to just keep going like it didn’t hurt. He got me pretty good with that knee, and it could have changed the outcome of fight. This is a sport. There has to be some line drawn.”
This might explain why Poirier blew off the idea of an Alvarez rematch during his in-cage interview after the win over Gaethje, opting instead to call out new lightweight champ Nurmagomedov. But while Poirier believes he’s surpassed the former champ in the pecking order, he’s not going to say no to fighting Alvarez again if a title shot isn’t yet in the cards.
“If I do not get the title shot next, it’s going to be Eddie,” Poirier said.