Dustin Poirier vs. Nate Diaz the fight to make after UFC 257

Dustin Poirier, left, and Nate Diaz, right, face off at a media event. The lightweight stars we scheduled to meet in 2018 but the fight fell apart.

Nate Diaz was among the millions who watched Dustin Poirier batter Conor McGregor at UFC 257 this past weekend and now the fan favourite from Stockton, Calif., has his sights set on the brawler from Lafayette, La.

Poirier said a fight against Diaz interests him and mutual interest was confirmed when Diaz responded to Poirier on social media. With champion Khabib Nurmagomedov recently retired, the UFC’s lightweight division is wide open in 2021 and this would be an ideal time a fresh matchup brimming with blockbuster pay-per-view potential.

The pair were briefly slated to meet at UFC 230 in late 2018 but Poirier sustained an injury in training, withdrew from the event and the fight was never rebooked.

“Always wanted to whip Nate Diaz’s ass,” Poirier told reporters at the post-fight press conference in Abu Dhabi. “That interests me. … Nate Diaz got away and likes to talk a lot of (expletive) online. I just gotta go back home and we’ll see.”

Diaz hasn’t competed in the lightweight division in more than five years but has been reportedly preparing for a return to 155 pounds.

UFC president Dana White suggested Poirier might take on Michael Chandler next – potentially with a lightweight title on the line – after Chandler made good on his promise to deliver a memorable UFC debut. The former Bellator MMA champion finished Dan Hooker with strikes half a round into Saturday’s co-main event to insert himself into the title conversation.

Poirier immediately threw cold water on a possible matchup with Chandler, however, saying it doesn’t make sense in his mind – especially if the belt was on the line.

“Respect to Chandler. Great win over a guy. But to come in and beat a guy I just beat and get a title shot?” Poirier questioned. “Dude, I’ve been in, what is this, 27, 28 fights in the UFC? Trying everything, fighting the toughest of the toughest guys to get my hands on gold. … That doesn’t really interest me at this point. I’ll go and sell hot sauce if that’s the case.”

Poirier added, “I can guarantee I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler,” and suggested Chandler be matched with Charles Oliveira or a different contender rather than jump the line so to speak.

Ranked lightweight contenders coming off wins: Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Charles Oliveira, Rafael Dos Anjos

Ranked lightweight contenders coming off losses: Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Dan Hooker, Paul Felder

Poirier, 32, said he’s also interested in a trilogy bout with McGregor since each man has one knockout win and one knockout loss in that rivalry, but is an immediate rematch after such a one-sided stoppage the best option when there are so many others out there?

Diaz, 35, shot to superstardom in 2016 thanks to his rivalry with McGregor. He became the first fighter to defeat McGregor in the UFC but McGregor won a close decision in their rematch, so there’s also the option of a Diaz-McGregor trilogy bout.

Poirier is the consensus top lightweight in MMA now that Nurmagomedov is out of the picture. If the UFC is keen on crowning a new champion as soon as possible then Poirier needs to be booked in that fight. It’s only right.

But here’s a question: Why does the UFC need to crown a new lightweight champ ASAP? Nurmagomedov only hung up his gloves three months ago. Three. Months. Why not give the division a little more time to breath and realign?

Would Diaz’s inactivity coupled with his recent 2-2 stretch at welterweight dissuade the UFC from booking him in a lightweight title fight against Poirier? At this point, does it even matter?

The beauty of Poirier vs. Diaz is it’s one of the only non-title fights not involving McGregor the UFC could book that would do monster numbers. They’re two of the sport’s top stars, there’s some personal heat, they do have a connection to McGregor which naturally helps promote the fight further, not to mention stylistically it would be absolute fireworks.

It's fresh. It's fun. Poirier wants it. Diaz wants it. There’s no better time to do it than the present.

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