Michael Bisping believes that if Dustin Poirier can upset the odds at UFC 242 next month and defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov, it will potentially allow Conor McGregor to swoop in for a lightweight title-shot.
McGregor made short work of The Diamond when they first fought back in 2014, finishing his opponent in one of the fight’s earliest exchanges to announce himself into the top-5 of the 145lb ranks.
Poirier, though no doubt a skilled featherweight, would only truly come into his own upon leaving that arduous cut down to 155lb behind him.
Now the interim-lightweight champion, Dustin has the opportunity to stamp his authority on the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings in a showdown against the undefeated champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The former middleweight champion Michael Bisping spoke during a recent edition of his Believe You Me podcast and explained why McGregor will secretly be hoping that his old foe can spring the upset.
“If I’m McGregor, he’s probably hoping and praying that Poirier beats Khabib in Abu Dhabi. Because if Poirier beats Khabib, obviously we all know Conor has that massive win over Poirier. He did it very, very easily. He made short work of Poirier back in the day. Alright, it was at 145, it was a long time ago, but even still, if Poirier wins there’s a possibility of setting up that rematch. That’s his shot and easier shot at the title.” (via MMAFighting)
“I don’t know if he gets that fight. Even if Khabib wins I don’t think he gets the rematch. The Poirier fight, definitely, I can see them doing that.
“I don’t [see them doing the Khabib rematch]. From the UFC’s perspective, they’re going to do it because it was the biggest pay-per-view they’ve ever done and the rematch is going to be even bigger. Simple as that. Rematches sell, especially with the amount of bad blood, especially with what happened after the fight outside the Octagon last time. The rematch will be huge. I just think Conor has to win another fight first. But at the same time, money does talk.
“Maybe. Maybe. Because A) as I said before, the numbers were massive so why wouldn’t they want to do that again? B) The public will buy it. They will 100 percent lap that up. It all depends on whether Khabib gives it to him. And honestly, Khabib probably wants to. There is a good possibility.”
Citing a showdown between McGregor and his former featherweight rival José Aldo as a suitable alternative, Bisping proposed the UFC’s return to Madison Square Garden as the ideal time for the pair to run it back.
Of course, the first meeting between the two ended in a shocking 13-second knockout for the Irishman and in the time since, José’s form has lacked consistency, but even still, with Conor in desperate need of a win, The Count went on to explain why that fight makes a lot more sense than a rematch against Nurmagomedov.
“That’s the fight to make, if I’m honest. Listen, Conor’s got to get back in the winning circle. If he fights Khabib, more than likely that’s not gonna happen. Could he catch him with a good shot and rock him and follow it up? Yeah, of course he could. But more than likely Khabib’s gonna take his best shot, he’s gonna take him down, and we’re gonna have a replay of what happened last time.
“Aldo and McGregor, the buildup to that fight was huge and it ended amazingly in 13 seconds and well done to McGregor. I think people would love to see that because a lot of people feel that Aldo can do better in the rematch and that’s definitely a very winnable fight for Conor. We saw what happened the first time.
“That makes sense. Aldo’s coming off a loss, McGregor’s coming off a loss. Pair them together, Madison Square Garden, there’s your main event, winner gets a title shot.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena