In the moments directly following Dustin Poirier’s fourth-round TKO win over Justin Gaethje (highlights here) in an insane main event at tonight’s (Sat., April 14, 2018) UFC on FOX 29 from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, “The Diamond” took the opportunity to call out for a chance to climb the 155-pound mountaintop.
His victory over “The Highlight” wasn’t flawless, as he absorbed a ton of damage in the form of Gaethje’s lethal inside leg kicks, a seemingly endless stream of which seemed to find their mark on Poirier’s right leg.
But in the end, he picked up arguably his biggest win in the octagon by fighting through the pain into the fourth round, where he rocked Gaethje with a big shot and followed with a precise fight-ending combination that forced Herb Dean to call it off.
In his post-fight interview, Poirier took hold of the moment and called for a bout against newly-minted lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov:
While it may sound like a far-away possibility with Nurmagomedov seemingly headed for a vast grudge match with former champ Conor McGregor, UFC President Dana White was understandably complimentary of ‘The Diamond’ when discussing the insane match-up at UFC on FOX 29 with Megan Olivi during the post-fight show on FOX Sports 2.
In his opinion, Poirier fought his way to the top, and apparently, he was already close, as White revealed ‘The Diamond’ was one of the fighters they considered as a short-notice replacement for the chaos at last week’s UFC 223 when Max Holloway was deemed unfit to fight in his own short-notice fight with Khabib:
“Absolutely. No, he’s definitely in there – he’s one of the guys we were thinking about calling, you know, last week to take the fight, but I didn’t wanna screw up this event. You know, thank God I didn’t.”
MMA fans everywhere have a reason to be thankful White did not tab Poirier as a last-minute replacement to face Khabib last week, but you would also have to think the UFC would not pass on the opportunity to cash in on what would legitimately be one of – if not the – biggest fights in UFC history between Khabib and McGregor.
In today’s era of social media-driven fights, that bout clearly tops a possible Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier fight for the time being, even if Poirier’s four-fight unbeaten streak is more than McGregor can lay claim to after more than a year-and-a-half on the bench. Of course, injured former interim champion Tony Ferguson has won many more top bouts than that, so the title picture at 155 pounds is a bit more congested than White would suggest.
While it gets sorted, Poirier could potentially rematch former champ Eddie Alvarez, whom he almost defeated at UFC 211 last year before an illegal knee led to a questionable no contest from Herb Dean.
Who do you think should get the next shot at ‘The Eagle’s’ shiny new belt?