“When they called me about Justin potentially being the opponent, there were those butterflies, that anxiety that hit me right away, and it was like, ‘We’ve got to do this,’” Poirier said at the UFC 291 media day. “It was five years ago [when] I beat him, I’ve done great things, he’s done great things, and we’ve just been on a collision course, it seems, to do it again.
“No. 2 and No. 3 – No. 1 is fighting the champ, so it just makes sense in the division, as well.”
In their first meeting, Poirier was able to stop the fellow former interim lightweight champ in the fourth round. After his win over Michael Chandler in November at UFC 281, and Gaethje’s recent victory over Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 in March, the stars were aligned to battle it out once more.
At this point in their respective careers, Poirier and Gaethje have seen it all and accomplished everything outside of capturing the undisputed lightweight title. Islam Makahchev and Charles Oliveira battle in their second meeting in the main event of UFC 294 in October, and the winner of Saturday’s main event will likely get the winner of that title fight.
Poirier knows what could be at stake, but he’s not thinking that far ahead. “The Diamond,” along with his family, friends, and fans all understand the type of battle ahead on Saturday night.
“Everyone knows what this is, and I’m willing to go there,” Poirier said. “I think that’s where I do my best work. The fact that the fans, and Justin — and he doesn’t go out of his way to portray that, he just that aura about him with the chaos, most violent — but I am that, and he knows that. Let’s go there.”
Should Diaz choose to return to the UFC after that fight, Poirier will be happy to welcome him back.
“If he comes back, I’ll beat him up,” Poirier said.