UFC: Dustin Poirier Says Rematch With Conor McGregor Only Business
Dustin Poirier will face former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in a highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 257 on January 23rd.
McGregor TKO’d Poirier the first time they battled at UFC 178 in September 2014. So much has changed since then, and the ‘Diamond’ says he is a completely different man now. In their first fight, a young, inexperienced and emotional Poirier was fighting to inflict damage on the Irishman, whose pre-fight trash talk admittedly got to him.
“This Is Business”
Speaking to MMA Junkie, Poirier said that the rematch with McGregor would be business as usual, and he’ll not be fighting for any kind of revenge.
“He was obviously a great fighter in finishing a bunch of guys before me in his UFC career, but at this point we’re both so much more established and have so much more experience, just more mature fighters, and I think you get a completely different fight here,” Poirier said. “I was emotional in the first one. I wanted to hurt the guy. This time I just want to outsmart him, just want to beat him. This is business. This isn’t any ill will towards the guy.
“When I was younger, I used to fight with a lot of emotion. This isn’t the same thing for me. This isn’t about getting even for me. This isn’t like a revenge type of thing for me. This is about moving my career forward, about putting my family in a better spot. It’s not trying to get back a guy who got me. This is just business.”
Speaking about the rematch, Poirier said that it is one that makes the most sense, given the current situation in the lightweight division.
“I knew it was a possibility, but I never chased it,” Poirier said. “It makes sense, I think, at this point. The rankings, the availability of fighters. We’re both coming off wins. I didn’t chase it. I didn’t think about it all the time, but I knew it was a possibility.”
The UFC 257 main event will be the third rematch of Poirier’s career, having beaten Eddie Alvarez at UFC Calgary in July 2018, and nine months later against Max Holloway at UFC 236, the second time around. However, when he faces McGregor a second time, the former interim lightweight champion will be fighting someone he’s lost to for the first time.
“It’s kind of the same, honestly,” Poirier said. “Going into the Max fight I knew he was a different fighter. I knew I was a different fighter. I couldn’t really draw any momentum from the first fight, and kind of same here with this. This is a completely different fight. We’re both completely different fighters, and I’m not really looking back at that first fight.”
Poirier has been the more active of the two fighters in recent years, with McGregor only fighting twice in the last four years, against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, and against ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246. But despite the Irishman’s lack of cage time recently, the 31 year old believes that he will come out all guns blazing.
“We have to get in there and find out how it aligns,” Poirier said. “Watching footage and stuff like that, I can tell you the guy has one of the best counter-twos in the game. No doubt about it. His timing, his balance, his understanding of distance when guys are being too heavy on their front foot and throwing power shots. He’s a great counter puncher. He really is. I give him credit for that.
“I’m sure he’s always evolving and working to get better. I think people, because he’s been submitted, he’s such a big puncher, people underestimate his ground game. I think his jiu-jitsu and his grappling is better than people give him credit for. I really do. I’m not underestimating this guy in any aspect of mixed martial arts. I’m expecting him to come out as a mixed martial artist, not a boxer, not a one-puncher. He’s coming to fight, and so am I.”
Khabib announced retirement right after successfully defending his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Although UFC president Dana White has said on numerous occasions that he believes that he will fight again, ‘The Eagle’ has denied that he plans to return for one more fight. Should he remain retired, Poirier believes that he and McGregor should fight for the title.
“I think if Khabib’s retired and not coming back, then I’m next in line for the title shot, and this could be the title fight,” Poirier said. “This could be for the undisputed belt. I think that’d make sense. Dana’s saying one thing, Khabib’s saying another. Who knows what the truth is? Time will tell.”
Warning To McGregor
Poirier also sent a warning to the former two-division UFC champion, saying that underestimating him would be a “huge mistake”.
“He might be [overlooking me], and that would be a huge mistake,” Poirier said. “That would be a huge mistake. I might be fighting [Manny] Pacquiao.”
What’s your prediction for Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor II?