Earlier this week, the UFC announced plans to crown a new 155-pound champion in the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement with Michael Chandler set to face Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 on May 15 in Houston.
According to UFC President Dana White, Poirier was offered that opportunity, but he passed on the title shot in favor of a third fight against McGregor, whom he finished by second-round TKO back at UFC 257.
The series is now tied at one win a piece after McGregor knocked out Poirier in similar fashion in their first meeting back in 2014.
Additional people with knowledge of negotiations confirmed to MMA Fighting that Poirier essentially had the opportunity to pick what he wanted next, and the McGregor fight was his choice.
While passing on a title shot might seem odd to some, White actually commended Poirier for his decision, especially knowing the kind of life-changing opportunity that comes along with a fight against McGregor.
“Dustin wants the rematch [with Conor McGregor],” White said during the UFC 260 pre-fight press conference on Thursday. “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, and [it was the] biggest mistake of their lives.”
While he may not have a chance to become champion just yet, Poirier will likely stand to receive a huge financial windfall from a trilogy against McGregor, especially after his performance in the rematch earlier this year.
Financial disclosures are never released by the promotion, but it’s likely Poirier secured a hefty payday for that fight, and he’ll likely do even better for the trilogy with McGregor, which is expected to take place later this year.
“Could be July,” White said about the timing for Poirier vs. McGregor 3. “July makes sense. In that ballpark.”
With Chandler vs. Oliveira planned for May and Poirier vs. McGregor 3 likely happening this summer, that leaves former title contender Justin Gaethje as the odd man out right now.
Gaethje hasn’t fought since losing by second-round submission to Nurmagomedov this past October, though he was rumored for a bout with Chandler until he was offered the title fight.
While he doesn’t have a fight booked right now, White still believes that Gaethje is in a good position in the lightweight division once things shake out over the next few months.
“He fits very well in all this,” White said when asked about Gaethje. “After this plays out, he’s probably next in line. I mean 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 sh*t 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.”