In March, Colby Covington defeated his bitter rival and former teammate Jorge Masvidal, winning a dominant decision at UFC 272. Following the win, Covington called for a fight with Poirier, another former teammate with whom he’s had friction, even including Poirier’s family in the callout. Poirier, a lightweight who previously competed at featherweight, shot down Covington’s call out, but things have apparently taken a turn over the past week.
On Friday, Poirier got on social media and said he wanted to fight on July 30. He then tweeted at Covington, saying he’d fight him on that date. It was a stark turnaround for Poirier, who, speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, explained why he changed his tune.
“I don’t hate anyone, but if there was a line right before hate, Colby’s standing right there,” Poirier said. “I really dislike the guy, and I’ve been saying I don’t want him to make a dollar off of fighting me, but they offered me him last week... It was either wait to the end of the year and fight for a No. 1 contender at lightweight, or fight in July, and that was the name that they gave me. So I was like, ‘F*** it.’
“So that’s not a call out of him. I’m not going out of my way. I don’t want to fight the guy. I don’t want him profiting anything off of me, but if they’re not giving me a fight until the end of the year and this is what they’re giving me, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I fought in December. I don’t want to sit in a holding pattern for 10-11 months. I’m healthy and I want to fight...
“I’m kind of pissed off at myself for saying I’d do it,” Poirier continued. “Not that I’m worried about the guy or his skill set or anything like that, it’s that I don’t want the f****** guy to prosper because I said yes to a fight with him. I don’t want him to make a dollar off of anything that I’ve done or off of fighting me, period. But you get a glass of whiskey in you, they call you a couple days before, s*** happens and then you fight. So f*** it.
“At least, if it does happen, it’s not a fight where I’m going to take any damage. This f****** guy.”
A fight with Covington, while not his first choice, does still represent a big fight for Poirier, and it’s a chance to establish himself at the top of a second weight class. It also happens to come against a guy he dislikes, and one he knows pretty well as a fighter.
“He’s everything I dislike about mixed martial arts,” Poirier said. “He’s a cartoon character. Everything he does if for any extra click, view, none of it’s authentic. He can wrestle, he’s though. I’ve been around him for years. I know him from being in the gym with him since 2012, 2013-ish, but he’s just a fake, a phony...
“Colby knows what’s up. He’s knows what’s happened in the gym. I’m not a scrap and tell kind of guy – I won’t say what happened, but he knows what happened those years in the gym. At the same time, I do [too]. He knows he’s taken me down and rode me out rounds, but he also known a couple times what happened to him. It is what it is. I don’t want my family to go through that but also I want to fight. Give me a fight.”
Ultimately, even though Poirier has accepted it, a fight with Covington is far from a certainty. “Chaos” is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Jorge Masvidal where Covington is claiming to have suffered a brain injury following an alleged attack by Masvidal in March. That could prevent the UFC from booking the fight and, for Poirier, that’s fine because his first choice remains the white whale of a fight with Nate Diaz.
“We’ll see what happens,” Poirier said. “Hopefully the UFC calls and says, ‘We’ve got Nate under control. Let’s do it.’ Hopefully that happens and then we could just have a real fighters fight, none of this showmanship bulls*** that’s just lies for clicks and views.”