At UFC 291, Poirier lost his rematch to Justin Gaethje by brutal second-round head kick knockout. The loss has been a tough one for Poirier to swallow and raises the question of what comes next for the former interim lightweight champion, something even Poirier isn’t sure about.
“I still feel great and I can compete with all these guys,” Poirier said on The MMA Hour. “I still love the sport, and I hate it too, so I just deal with it. Every day is different. It’s like a roller-coaster of emotions. I love it and I hate it. It’s given me everything that I have, but it’s also taken away so much time. I have to be so selfish in what I do. I miss so many birthdays. And I’m not complaining, because it’s given me everything that I have, but to be at the highest level, for me anyway, I have to be so selfish and so focused and lock myself away, so I miss a lot of time.
“But I’m Mr. Bounce Back. I’ve never lost two fights in a row in 47 fights. I don’t think I can walk away on a loss. But also, I don’t know. Like I said in the press conference, I’m not better than these guys, but I’ve been doing this s*** too long. I don’t want to fight a new guy in the UFC or something like that. It has to mean something to me. Otherwise I’m just fighting to fight. I’ve done that my whole life. I got ahead doing that. I put myself in a great position. It has to mean something. This meant something. This was a legacy fight. That’s what really hurts.”
Given his parameters, there aren’t a lot of opponents who make sense for Poirier right away at 155 pounds, which is why some fans quickly suggested “The Diamond” make the move up to welterweight as Rafael dos Anjos, Gilbert Burns, and numerous other lightweights have done before him. But Poirier says that isn’t really an option.
“That’s another thing. Of course I could make 170 because I walk around heavier than 170, but everybody thinks I’m a f****** huge lightweight. Trust me, I’m on the mats at American Top Team with a handful of other fighters at 155 pounds who weigh more than me on a normal basis,” Poirier said. “Out of camp, here in Louisiana, if I’m training a couple times a week, I’m high 170s. I’m waking up 178. That’s not big. To the average person that might seem like a lot, but in this day and age, lightweights in the UFC, that’s not heavy. I think people anchor on to when I was cutting to 145 and I said I got up to 190 a few times. I haven’t seen 190s in six, seven years, however long I’ve been at lightweight.”
Instead, it seems likely that Poirier is in store for some time off as he waits for a fight to materialize that makes sense. One opponent who has jumped to the forefront is the only other man to fall short in a BMF title fight: Nate Diaz.
Poirier and Diaz have a history with one another and were even booked to fight in a bout that never materialized. Diaz is currently set to box former Disney Channel star Jake Paul on Aug. 5 in Dallas, and Poirier doesn’t love his chances.
“I think he could win. I just think he’s older, not as explosive, and his style,” Poirier said. “Yes, it’s awkward. I think his boxing works, and he has good things he does, but for boxing, in a ring, against a boxer — not that Jake’s an incredible boxer with angles and stuff, but he’s dedicated himself to the craft and I know he’s young and strong and explosive, and all it takes is one shot. I think Jake is going to win, but I could be wrong. If Nate gets him tired, Jake punches himself out, we all know Nate has a gas tank. So we’ll see.
“I don’t think Nate has the power to put Jake [out]. Jake is big, man. Jake is big compared to Nathan. Boxing gloves, that pitty-pat style, I think it’s going to be hard to put Jake away.”
Should Diaz fall short against Paul, that could open the door for the long-awaited Poirier-Diaz matchup. After all, when he chose to leave the UFC last year, Diaz specifically said he would return to the promotion after pursuing his boxing plans. And if that happens, Poirier would gladly welcome the Stockton native back into the cage.
“He can’t get his leg high, right? Like a high kick or nothing? Alright, I’ll take that fight,” Poirier joked. “Let’s f****** go. I’m not chasing it. It’s funny because you’re the third person in the last week to bring his name up and he’s not even in the organization. That would be a good one.”