Dustin Poirier is putting aside his title ambitions for the time being amid reports that he is set to fight Conor McGregor once again this summer, and Dana White says it is “smart” to chase a second successive ‘red panty night’.
With Khabib Nurmagomedov having finally walked into the sunset after confirming that his retirement is a legitimate one, White has called off his unceasing campaign to tempt the Russian champion back to the cage by announcing that UFC newcomer Michael Chandler will fight Charles Oliveira for the rights to the title that was previously firmly affixed to Nurmagomedov’s waist.
The announcement of this particular title bout did raise a few eyebrows, however, given that top-ranked Poirier wasn’t involved when the division’s third and fourth seeds were – but White says that Poirier was offered the title bout, refusing in favor of another crack against his Irish rival.
“Dustin wants the rematch,” White told the media in Las Vegas at Thursday’s UFC 260 press conference.
“That’s smart. That’s what he should do. He should take the rematch, take that fight. It’s a big fight for him.
“Kid’s worked hard his whole life, his whole career to be in a position like this. That’s the fight you take. We’ve been in positions like this before with others who have made the mistake of not taking that fight – biggest mistake of their lives.”
Poirier’s decision to pursue the rubber match with McGregor represents a stark contrast to previous statements from the Louisianian, who had intimated that the world title was his primary motivation.
It seems he may have changed course after receiving the paycheck for his second round TKO win over McGregor in January, which reports indicate generated a mammoth 1.6 million pay-per-view sales.
The third fight is expected to exceed that figure even further, guaranteeing the American a second bumper payday in 2021.
White also stated that July is a good bet for when McGregor vs. Poirier III might take place – a date which appears to coincide with the UFC’s traditional annual ‘International Fight Week’.
The winner of the fight will be well-positioned to take on the winner of the Chandler-Oliveira title fight, but that leaves the rest of the UFC lightweight elite to scramble for footing in the knowledge that the next two world title fights at 155lbs appear set in stone.
One man making noise on the sidelines, though, is Justin Gaethje. The American hasn’t competed in the octagon since losing to Nurmagomedov in the Russian’s final career bout, but White says Gaethje is very much in the mix despite his recent inactivity.
“He fits very well in all this,” White said. “After this plays out, he’s probably next in line. It depends on what happens with Dustin and Conor.
“You know how that is: timing is everything when these fights happen. How much damage did the guy who won take? What kind of personal s*** does he have going on?
“All that stuff factors into when the next fight would be. Justin Gaethje couldn’t be in a better position.”