Conor McGregor could fight Justin Gaethje rather than Dustin Poirier on January 23 according to a new report from ESPN.

McGregor and Poirier have verbally agreed to a rematch. UFC president Dana White also said the fight was a done deal. However, contracts are not yet signed, and ‘The Diamond’ made that much clear in a recent social media post directed at his employers.

According to Ariel Helwani’s sources, Poirier is the man believed to be holding the fight up and he could be replaced by Gaethje or another lightweight contender if ‘Notorious’ is down to fight whoever in early 2021.

“First, let’s establish the fact that the McGregor vs. Poirier fight isn’t a done deal, sources say. Nothing has been signed,” Helwani said.

“McGregor isn’t the issue, by the way. He’s in and eager to resume his career, I’m told. Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to hear that securing Poirier remains a hurdle. He’s the reason the Tony Ferguson-Poirier fight didn’t happen on Oct. 24, and he might be the reason the McGregor-Poirier fight doesn’t happen on Jan. 23. That’s not to say he’s doing anything wrong, per se, rather, he’s just trying to get a deal that he’s comfortable with and the two sides are still apart. That’s the fight biz.

“As a result, the UFC has said it would be willing to replace Poirier with Gaethje (or even another fighter), sources say. Of course, for this to happen, McGregor would have to be on board, and I’m not sure if he is, to be honest. That’s because Gaethje is coming off a loss and because of things Gaethje has said about McGregor (specifically about McGregor as a father) in the past.

“At this point, McGregor might be Poirier’s biggest ally. If McGregor says he’ll only fight Poirier, the UFC will have to work much harder to figure things out with Poirier. However, if McGregor says he’s open to other options because he just wants to fight, Poirier might be in trouble. Ultimately, I’ll say right now that they’ll figure things out with Poirier and the Jan. 23 fight will get done. That’s just a guess, because this can go sideways at any minute. But, because Poirier will realize this is too big an opportunity to pass up and because McGregor wants it, I’ll say it will get done.”

Who do you want to see Conor McGregor fight on January 23?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.