Dustin Poirier has outlined why he would rather face-off in a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov as opposed to Conor McGregor.
McGregor defeated Poirier via a first-round technical knock-out at UFC 178 in 2014. It was seen as or of McGregor’s first big victories in the UFC at the time and the Irish man would go on to cement his place as the biggest star in the sport over the coming years.
Meanwhile, Poirier went back to the drawing board claiming the loss to McGregor made him evolve as a fighter and a man.
“It definitely started happening after the Conor McGregor loss,” Poirier told ESPN about his evolution as a fighter and emergence as one of the UFC’s good guys.
“That was the start of it. It’s been a long process, being a father, losing again, winning some and losing again, and winning another one. It’s just a long evolution of stop caring so much. You just stop caring about the noise and stuff that doesn’t matter.
“A lot of times in my younger career, I felt like it was life or death. Every comment on Instagram and Twitter, every journalist who said something, I felt like everybody was against me. I felt like if I lost I would be written off, it’s the end of my career. I’m a bum if I lose this fight.
“And then you lose a few times and you’re like, ‘Oh sh*t, I can still put this back together. Oh man, I’m still providing for my family. I’m still loving what I do.’ It’s like you’ve been bent but not broken a lot of times. I feel like it made me stronger and it made me the man I am today, I’m happy. I’m genuinely happy.”
Poirier has improved immeasurably since that loss to McGregor recording some impressive wins en route to a shot at the lightweight title where he fell to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
The American is back in the win column following a fight of the year contender with Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN 12 and will be looking at another shot at gold soon.
Poirier was pressed on whether he’d rather fight McGregor or Nurmagomedov in a rematch and he chose the lightweight champion but not because he is the man holding the belts.
“If the belts weren’t on the line, just for my legacy, I would love to beat Khabib,” Poirier told MMA Junkie.
“Nobody’s ever beat him. Nobody’s ever climbed that mountain. I would love to be the first one. That’s historic. That’s legendary. That’s the stuff I’m out to do. I’m not out for rematches and grudge matches and revenge. I’m a grown man, I don’t hold that stuff in my heart. I have a family and this is a business to me.
“When I was younger, I might have wanted to fight Conor or fight anybody who beat me. But I’m just comfortable with everything. I’m comfortable with my record, with the stuff that I’ve done, the fights I’ve done. The fights that I’ve lost, I learned my lessons and tried to keep moving forward. So I’d really like to be the first one to beat Khabib.”
McGregor has since responded to Poirier’s claims he’d rather face Nurmagomedov again taking to Twitter to claim he was stating the obvious due to the nature the defeat he dropped to the Irish man.
“Ministry of the bleedin obvious. Getting concussed, slept, and fed to the canvas, is infinite times worse than being held and caught in a submission hold.”