GLENDALE, Ariz. – Dustin Poirier may not get a UFC lightweight title shot next, but he’s certainly in the running.
Following his TKO of Justin Gaethje (18-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC on FOX 29 headliner, Poirier (23-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) called for a title shot against new 155-pound titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC), who won the belt at UFC 223 this month.
With Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in limbo and Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) injured, Poirier believes the timing is right of him to slide his way into a title matchup against “The Eagle.” UFC President Dana White wouldn’t announce Poirier as the top contender with any certainty, but he verified that he’s in the running for the opportunity.
“Absolutely (he’s a title contender),” White said on the UFC on FOX 29 post-event show on FS2. “He’s definitely in there. He was one of the guys we were thinking about calling last to take the fight (at UFC 223), but we didn’t want to screw up this event. Thank God we didn’t.”
UFC on FOX 29 took place at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Poirier vs. Gaethje headlined the FOX-televised card following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
Poirier, 29, is aware the lightweight division is in a bit of a messy state, but he thinks a title shot is realistic. He took quite a bit of damage in the matchup with Gaethje, but given the fact Nurmagomedov won’t be able to fight until at least August or September due to his observation of Ramadan, the timetable could work perfectly for “The Diamond.”
“I’ve paid my dues,” Poirier said. “I’ve put nothing but hard work in. I’ve been close to the mountaintop and I’ve been knocked down. I’ve shown resilience and fortitude and I’ve done it over and over again to put myself back in the position I’m in, and I’m hitting my stride as a father, a fighter, a husband and a person. I’m ready to go, and gold is next. I smell it. I feel it in the air.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Dana White: Dustin Poirier 'absolutely' a contender for UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov