After beating up Conor McGregor at the UFC 257 pay-per-view (PPV) event last month in Abu Dhabi, longtime lightweight contender Dustin Poirier told the mixed martial arts (MMA) media that he refuses to fight Bellator MMA import Michael Chandler, even if the bout is contested for the 155-pound title.
It was a “weird” thing to say, according to the “Iron” man.
Chandler also competed at UFC 257 and walloped Top 10 veteran Dan Hooker in the very first round. With fellow contenders Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson both coming off losses, Poirier doesn't have many options outside Chandler and streaking lightweight contender Charles Oliveira.
“I do think it’s a little bit weird,” Chandler told MMA Fighting about Poirier’s rejection. “No matter what, who I was before UFC 257 is much different in the eyes of the fans, the media, the rankings than who I am now after UFC 257. With the dominant performance that I put on against a guy that I finished in two-and-a-half minutes that took him 25 minutes to win a decision against.”
The promotion is expected to vacate the lightweight title now that Khabib Nurmagomedov has made it clear that he is retired with no plans to return. Poirier seems to be looking at big money fights against McGregor, as well as Nate Diaz, which could cost him the opportunity to compete for the title.
“I think to the UFC fans and to the UFC media and to the UFC brass and to the UFC staff, everyone has immediately adopted me as one of their own,” Chandler continued. “Everyone has said, ‘This is the guy, this guy is legit, this guy is a contender that could win the title this year.’ But you’re not quite seeing that from the Poiriers, the Gaethjes, the Oliveiras, the top guys. You’re not seeing it from Khabib. I’m here to continue to earn it, continue to prove it but I know UFC title shots don’t happen very easily, so if I do get that opportunity, or if these other guys don’t take the opportunity, they could get passed up and the guy on the bill could be named Michael Chandler.”
UFC matchmakers have their work cut out for them.