According to UFC President Dana White, the promotion has already lined up a new opponent for Ferguson after talks with Poirier broke down in recent days.
Poirier stated publicly that he wasn’t satisfied with the terms offered to him for the fight so he was shutting down his training camp with plans to return home to Louisiana. Sources close to the situation confirmed to MMA Fighting that Poirier’s team was still interested in engaging in talks with the UFC in hopes of striking a deal but it appears that’s no longer an option.
“I told you, we got a fight,” White said about Ferguson receiving a new opponent when speaking to reporters following The Contender Series on Tuesday night. “Not yet, no [Ferguson hasn’t accepted the fight]. He will. I don’t see Tony not accepting a fight.”
If Poirier is out, there are only a couple of viable options for Ferguson based on the current UFC rankings.
Charles Oliveira would probably be at the top of the list after he’s rattled off seven straight wins — all coming by knockout or submission — and he just recently pulled out of a fight with Beneil Dariush due to “personal reasons” but nothing further was stated at the time. Fellow top 10 ranked lightweight Dan Hooker is also a possibility after he faced off with Poirier in June and Paul Felder would also be an available option if he was willing to step into face Ferguson in October.
Earlier this week, Ferguson actually pushed for the Poirier fight to happen after asking the UFC to “pay” him so they could still clash at UFC 254.
It appears those requests will not be granted with White adamant that Ferguson will face a new opponent in October.
“Listen, I like Dustin,” White said. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything negative about Dustin. He’s a great kid. I don’t know if it was he didn’t want to fight in Abu Dhabi or what his deal was, he didn’t want to fight. There’s a lot of different ways to turn down a fight.
“Negotiating yourself out of one is one of the ways you can do it. So for whatever reason, he didn’t want to take this fight. Only he knows that.”
Poirier refuted White’s claims later on Twitter.
UFC 254 will be headlined by a lightweight title unification bout as Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Justin Gaethje. It’s likely Ferguson and his new opponent will serve as potential backup in case anything happens to either fighter scheduled in the main event.