The easiest match to make after UFC 257 seems to be Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler after they both walked out of the event with a pay-per-view on Saturday with impressive knockout victories.
But Poirier doesn’t believe they’re in the same category and doesn’t want to fight the former Bellator champion after he stopped Conor McGregor in the pay-per-view headliner.
“I can guarantee I won’t fight Michael Chandler,” Poirier told reporters, including MMA Fighting, at a UFC 257 press conference after the fight. “They can do whatever they want with the division. I really don̵
UFC 257 was originally framed by UFC President Dana White as a sort of audition for the best lightweight division, with Poirier vs. McGregor and Chandler vs. Dan Hooker competing to impress current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Chandler certainly did his job, stopping Hooker in the first round with a furious blow. But as Nurmagomedov seems less likely to change his decision to retire from the sport, Poirier believes he should be considered a champion.
Of course, Poirier doesn’t actually hold a belt. But he has to fight for it very soon, and if the UFC does things the way it thinks it should be done, he said, then the person who stands up to him next will be someone who has won the opportunity.
“I just started work,” he said. “That’s why I’m sitting here and I feel like I can talk about it, because I’ve been in the division and the UFC for a long time, fighting among the best of the best of the best.
“Without disrespect to [Chandler], looks like a good husband, a good father, speaks well, has a lot of respect, behaves very well. This is not a knock against him. These are just my feelings for the division and the sport. I lost to Khabib, went out and put “Battle of the Year” for you, raised my hand against the top 5 opponent after that. Then I go in there and Khabib doesn’t want to come back, then I knock out one of the biggest battles you can get. I knock out this man too.
“Habib says again that he doesn’t want to fight anymore – dude, I’m the champion. I’m not going to fight some – and as I said, respect to Chandler – a new guy in the UFC who just beat a guy who comes out of a loss I just won for the belt. This is not exciting for me. “
Last June, Poirier defeated Hooker with a decision to bounce back after losing to Nurmagomedov in the title unifier. A more attractive candidate for him was Charles Oliveira, who has won his last eight fights and recently upgraded former interim champion Tony Ferguson in team performance.
“I think he has more [of a case for the title shot]said Poirier. “I’ve been watching this guy for 10 years in the UFC, two different weight categories. He has fought the best of the best, over and over again. And he was knocked down and got up and proved what MMA and perseverance is. I respect that. Not that I don’t respect Michael Chandler. I just think there’s more work for him than beating a man I just beat. “
Oliveira was one of the two names raised for the title, and the other was Justin Gaetje, who, like Poirier, lost an attempt to unite the belts. Before that, however, Gaethje was stopped by the Diamond in a brutal duel.
Asked if Oliveira or Gaette had a better claim to the title shot, Poirier chose the Brazilian.
“Just because he never had a chance,” Poirier said. “Gaethje just came out here and was beaten, just like me. He didn’t knock on Gaethje, but he lost. I think Olivier will probably let them fight to see who gets it. “
Poirier will eventually see what the UFC is preparing for him after a bit of rest and relaxation. He put a huge feather in his hat, defeating McGregor, the biggest star at the UFC box office and a former two-division champion. The next battle he fights must be one he can justify as a veteran who has earned his living.