Dustin Poirier is open to a trilogy bout with Conor McGregor after stopping “Notorious” earlier this month at UFC 257, but the lightweight contender is more focused on a title shot at this point in his career.
Poirier, who dismantled McGregor with leg kicks in their main event rematch last weekend on “Fight Island,” eventually stunned the Irishman with punches in Round 2 to earn the TKO stoppage and become the first fighter ever to finish McGregor via strikes. It was a massive feather in Poirier’s cap, but one his head coach, Mike Brown, saw coming from a mile away.
“It really went how we wanted it mostly,” Brown told MMA Fighting. “We thought we should kick and wrestle early and then box in later rounds once the pop is gone off Conor’s punches. The plan was to wrestle and kickbox early, use his length, use his kicks early and we figured in the third round or so is when we planned to start boxing, but we didn’t get to that point. He was landing shots before that.
“We also knew or felt that Dustin could win a lot of ways. There’s a lot of different ways he could have done it. We didn’t know if it was going to happen. I mean he’s got the power also to hurt guys, to knock them out early. So we knew he could get an early knockout. We knew he had the ability to damage him with the calf kick. We know he had the ability to catch him in a [submission], he’s got very good subs. We knew he had the possibility of winning by decision. We knew he could win in many ways. Conor has his ways, too. We knew there were also ways to lose the fight. We felt that we had more ways to win.”
While Poirier was the better man at UFC 257 his rivalry with McGregor is all tied up at 1-1. Remember, “Notorious” knocked Poirier out in their first meeting back in 2014 at featherweight. McGregor was hoping to rediscover that magic in his return to the Octagon last weekend, but “Diamond” had different plans.
Poirier would be open to running it back with McGregor, especially considering UFC 257 reportedly pulled in 1.6 million PPV buys, but the pot needs to be sweetened this time around.
“I think all depends on what Dustin wants,” Brown said. “Obviously it was big. It was the second biggest pay-per-view of all time. That’s certainly a reason. They are split 1-1, so it does make sense in some ways.
“But really what Dustin is fighting for is to be the world champion. I think he wants to take time, relax, enjoy his family and not think about anything right now and just enjoy it. But I know really what he wants more than anything else is to have that undisputed world champion title to his name.”
Considering current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is practically retired many believed the rematch between Poirier and McGregor should have been for the undisputed title. Both fighters had previously lost to Khabib via submission, but they were the two best options to fight for a vacant belt. UFC didn’t put a title on the line so now Poirier has to fight again to claim the gold that’s been eluding him his entire career.
“It was tough because that really, with Khabib retired, that should have been a title fight,” Brown said. “I feel like we’re in a similar situation with Yves Edwards years ago. He was the uncrowned champion when they kind of got rid of the title and the division was in limbo and he fought Josh Thomson. That legitimately should have been for the vacant lightweight title, and he won that fight and looked great. He doesn’t officially have that to his title, UFC champion.
“But I think a lot of people feel that way with Dustin. I think a high percentage of the experts and the other athletes, he’s the guy. He was the No. 1 guy going into that, he was the No. 1 contender. Conor was the former two-division champion, definitely a fighter worthy of that fight. Biggest draw in the sport ever. That really should have been a title fight.”
All of that said, Poirier came out a massive winner after his finish over McGregor. Not only did he avenge his previous loss to “Notorious,” but he became the first fighter to finish the Irishman with strikes and did so in front of millions of fans. It was the type of performance that leaves “Diamond” looking like a true champion, whether he has an actual belt or not.
“It kind of feels like he’s the uncrowned champion,” Brown said. “His resume is unbelievable. Look at how many former champions he’s beaten and in this last stretch of fights. It’s an unbelievably tough schedule that he’s had. He beat [Justin] Gaethje, former world champion. [Anthony] Pettis, former world champion. Eddie [Alvarez], former world champion. Conor, two-division world champion. Max Holloway was the current featherweight champion.
“This is just back-to-back-to-back. It’s an incredible stretch over very tough opponents. He feels like he’s in that position as the uncrowned champion.”
For complete UFC 257 results and coverage click here.