Poirier has been on the sidelines since his last outing against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 in Dec. 2021. Following a second unsuccessful title shot at lightweight, Poirier speculated about making a move up to welterweight for his next bout but hadn’t confirmed that he would.
His rivalry with Chandler reached its climax at UFC 276 when the two got into an altercation attending the event. Since then, Chandler indicated that Poirier was next in line for him, and Tiki Ghosn, Poirier’s manager, was in agreement with his statement.
During the latest episode of “The MMA Hour,” Helwani broke the news of Poirier’s fight with Chandler being close to getting finalized for UFC 281.
“Breaking news! Speaking of New York City, speaking of Madison Square Garden, speaking of the Mecca, speaking of the world’s most famous arena, speaking of the home of the 2023 NBA champion New York Knickerbockers.
“I’m being told right now, multiple sources tell me that the highly-anticipated, much-discussed, grudge match between one Dustin Poirier, and Michael Chandler is close to being finalized for that return card at MSG in November.
“I do believe it’s Nov. 12th, if memory serves me correctly. And so, it is close and likely for that card, slated for that card. Not quite a done deal just yet but it would be UFC 281.”
Poirier posted a tweet morning of Aug. 3 hinting at the same: “Fight news coming soon!!”
Helwani Believes It’s the Fight To Make
Chandler’s feud with Poirier reignited after “Iron” Mike knocked out Tony Ferguson at UFC 274. During the post-fight octagon interview, Chandler doubled down on his historic performance with an electrifying promo calling out Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, and Oliveira.
Poirier was conspicuously absent in the call-out. The 33-year-old Louisiana native took issue with his omission and addressed Chandler on social media before the two almost came to blows in person at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“The fight that’s been discussed dating back to when Chandler signed with the UFC,” Helwani said. “Chandler vs. Poirier, we saw in July, earlier last month, (during) the International Fight Week. They’re in the arena, there’s a bit of an exchange of words.”
“You’ll recall both of them talking about each other on this very show,” he added. “There’s a rivalry there, and this is a heated grudge match. I can’t wait for this. This was the fight to make.
“So, again, Michael Chandler vs. Dustin Poirier close, likely, not finalized. Let’s not get crazy but it’s all moving in that direction, and I think that’s very exciting. That’s the fight to make.
UFC Was Waiting To See What Happened With Its Other Stars Before Moving On Poirier
Poirier has been rallying to get his next showing booked and was briefly linked to a megafight opposite fan favorite Nate Diaz. They had been paired up before for UFC 230 in Nov. 2018 but the outing was canceled after “Diamond” was forced to pull out due to a hip injury.
While both superstars appeared to be in agreement to make the showdown happen this year, the matchup fell through because of a lack of interest from the UFC.
Helwani gave a recap of the highlights that led to Poirier being pitted against Chandler and suggested the UFC was waiting to see how its other stars got matched up before developing further on Poirier.
“Gilbert Burns got it on his phone, and we all needed to see what would happen with Nathan Diaz,” he continued. “Once that other shoe dropped, so to speak, once we knew that Diaz was not going to re-sign and that we’re going to give him Khamzat Chimaev, that left Poirier open.
“Once we found out that Conor McGregor isn’t coming back this year, at the earliest 2023. I mean that fight just made all the sense in the world. Remember, they were in Abu Dhabi when Dustin beat Conor in the rematch, the second fight.
“There was a lot of tension there. Dustin didn’t like how Chandler was kinda being used to put pressure on the whole situation. Also being used as the backup without fighting in the UFC coming over from Bellator.”