Dustin Poirier Confirmed As Khabib’s Next Opponent

Adam Hagy for USA TODAY Sports
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The UFC claims they’re deciding to do the right thing. That, in this context, is booking Dustin Poirier in a title unification bout as Khabib’s upcoming opponent.

‘The Diamond’ put on arguably the best performance of his career by outlasting featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title in the main event of last night’s (Sat., April 13, 2019) UFC 236 from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Poirier has certainly had more dominant performances, true. The grit of his bloody, hard-fought war (watch the highlights) with Holloway was the biggest stage of his career. The longtime vet called for a much-deserved unification match-up with Nurmagomedov right after his interim-sealing victory.

Khabib, in turn, offered his congratulations to Poirier and said he’d meet him in September.

“I don’t agree with the judges 49:46, I got a draw, my respect to both fighters, and Porier’s (sic) achievement so far cannot be denied, my congratulations Dustin, see you in September.”

A Guarantee From Dana White

At the post-fight presser, Poirier detailed why he would be the first fighter to defeat the unbeaten “Eagle.”

But it wasn’t necessarily guaranteed the fight would be the next title bout in the stacked-yet-confusing lightweight division.

No, Conor McGregor’s long-running, personal rivalry with Khabib made it seem like that could happen next, as absurd a prospect it seemed. Khabib vs. Poirier was far from a certainty due to McGregor’s ongoing if not deserved presence in the title picture. That is, until after the fight when UFC President Dana White confirmed it would happen next:

“Yes, that’s the fight,” White said via MMA Fighting. “Poirier will fight Khabib next. Probably in September.”

Building off that confirmation, ‘The Eagle’ also said McGregor needed to win a fight before he earned a rematch for the gold.

So that seems to tentatively be what will happen next at lightweight. It’s the right call, as Poirier has worked his way up with blood, sweat, and tears by defeating Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, and Anthony Pettis in four straight fights. Each and every fight has been a bloody, entertaining war on top of it.

Poirier Earned It

Because of that rise to the top, White acknowledged Poirier had reached the mountaintop:

“Poirier has stayed the path and trained hard and done what he’s had to do to to get here and tonight was his night. He fought an incredible fighter and he won.”

But White has promised many a fighter a title shot in the past following a big win, only to see the UFC go with another match-up. The outspoken executive reasserted that ‘The Diamond’ was next for the undisputed championship:

“Unless something happens to Dustin Poirier, he gets hurt or gets injured or something happens, he’s got the fight.”

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