Dustin Poirier is ready to bounce back after his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi. “The Diamond,” a former interim 155-pound champion, headlined UFC 242 opposite Nurmagomedov in September. Although he gave the Russian some problems inside the Octagon, Poirier was forced to tap out to a deep rear-naked choke in the third round.
Now, as he begins his journey back to the 155-pound title, Poirier is looking to welcome back former featherweight foe Conor McGregor to the Octagon. McGregor hasn’t fought since his own loss to Nurmagomedov, last year at UFC 229 in Las Vegas. McGregor is obviously looking to get his redemption against “The Eagle,” but will likely need one more win before doing so.
Speaking to MMA Junkie recently, Poirier explained why he’s the perfect fight for McGregor’s Octagon return.
“I think it could happen; I don’t know how likely it is,” Poirier said. “I’m still at the top of the division. He’s ranked under me. If he wants to get back to the title, there’s only one way to do that is to fight. I’m the next guy in line, so I think it makes a lot of sense.
“My star has never been brighter, and people want to see Conor back, and I think it would be a huge fight, and it would be a huge pay-per-view. I just want a fight that’s going to make me excited. I’ve been doing this a long time and not that I’m not motivated, I just want to be excited about it.”
Poirier and McGregor first fought back at UFC 178 in 2014. There, the Irishman finished Poirier in the first round via TKO. However, “The Diamond” has evolved tremendously since the defeat, and a rematch between himself and McGregor would certainly play out much different than their first scrap.
“I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons since then,” Poirier said. “I’ve got a lot better. It’ll be six years or so since we fought. I’ve tightened up a lot of things, got a lot smoother, I’m more defensively responsible now. After the Michael Johnson loss, I went back and really started to work on my defense, my range, my timing, and my understanding of distance. I think that really shows in the fights I’ve had since then. It’s the same thing with this Khabib fight. I wasn’t defensively responsible on the ground.
“I’ve spent thousands of hours on the ground and had people try to choke my neck, and in the fight with Khabib I was more worried about trying to wear this guy down than I was about the danger of the potential of the chokes and the submissions. The alarm wasn’t going off like, ‘Emergency!’ I wasn’t defensively responsible. Not that I didn’t think I could get submitted, but I don’t get submitted very often honestly, and I think I can make these guys work and get up. But he’s a different animal, and I need to tighten up. Lesson learned.”
What do you think about a potential rematch between Poirier and McGregor?