Dustin Poirier has spent his career chasing world titles, so he’s never been all that focused on a single opponent, though there’s at least one fight he wanted where it seems unlikely he’ll ever get it.
After his matchup against Nate Diaz got scrapped back in 2018, Poirier continued to pursue that fight. But despite all his efforts, the bout just never came together.
Now, Diaz is poised to leave the UFC in free agency after fighting out his last contract, which casts doubt that he’ll ever compete in the promotion again, much less see Poirier standing across the cage.
While it’s not exactly something that consumes him by any means, Poirier admits he wishes the Diaz fight had happened before his exit from the UFC.
“I’ve always wanted to fight Nate,” Poirier said during UFC 280 media day. “We tried to make it happen a few times. It always fell apart. It sucks that he’s gone now, and I won’t get that chance to fight him. But it is what it is, the sport moves on.”
While Diaz might be the one that got away, Poirier rarely escapes questions about potentially facing off with Conor McGregor again even after two wins over the former two-division UFC champion.
These days, McGregor has bulked up in weight while filming his role in the upcoming Road House reboot. There have been no signals about when he may compete again. McGregor has also been removed from the UFC’s anti-doping program, which means he’ll have to complete six months of drug testing before he can book a fight.
That said, Poirier doesn’t really seem interested in running it back with McGregor. He’s already been there, done that, and he’s got different goals in the sport than chasing another fight with the Irish superstar.
“I’m not sure,” Poirier said about fighting McGregor again. “You never know in this sport. I don’t know if he’s coming back, what weight class, I’m not sure. Never say never but it’s not looking like it in the near future. We’ll see. I fought him three times. I’m trying to get to the title.”
If all goes well and he’s victorious, the 33-year-old lightweight hopes that will put him back in the race to become champion again where his path became a little clearer after Islam Makhachev defeated Charles Oliveira to claim the 155-pound title.
Poirier, who fell to Oliveira in his most recent fight, praised Makhachev for a job well done even if that’s not the result he expected.
“I was surprised,” Poirier said about Makhachev’s win. “I didn’t have a dog in the fight but I thought Charles was going to get it done. But congrats to Islam, he’s the world champ.
“[Islam is a] tough guy, on a streak. Looks like he’s putting everything together, doing everything right. What bad can I say about him?”
It seems unlikely that Poirier would get a shot at Makhachev even with a win over Chandler, although Oliveira no longer holding the belt definitely puts him closer to that opportunity. That said, he knows better than most that there’s no such thing as a straight line to any title in the UFC, which is why he’s not spending much time trying to map out what comes next.
“Nothing’s ever clear in this sport, especially in the lightweight division,” Poirier said. “But [Islam Makhachev becoming champion] definitely opens up doors. There’s new opportunities, different fights make sense now, new opponents. We’ll see. None of that matters until Saturday night.
“I’m not sure [who’s next], whatever the next contender is. I have no clue. The landscape’s always changing. But first things first, I have to get my hand raised Saturday night.”