Two weeks have elapsed since Dustin Poirier avenged his 2014 knockout loss to two-time foe, Conor McGregor at UFC 257 in a blockbuster lightweight headliner. And with the score currently sitting at one apiece between the duo, a rubber-match trilogy has been constantly floated event since the Abu Dhabi, UAE affair.
According to ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani tonight, the promotion are “going back in the direction” toward a trilogy affair between Poirier and McGregor next, with the current issue of the lightweight title championship still unresolved.
“So, now it looks, two weeks later, we’re going back in the direction of DP (Dustin Poirier) vs. Conor (McGregor) III, like it?” Helwani told former two-weight world champion, Daniel Cormier on their podcast, DC & Helwani this afternoon. “Yeah, that’s the direction we’re going.“
“Now the big question is — this the big question, belt or not?” Helwani said. “That seems to be up in the air still. I think there’s a chance they still don’t make it for the belt, how about that?“
Tonight’s development follows recent social media calls from both Poirier and McGregor for a trilogy bout, with Poirier taking to his official Twitter to allude to a rubber-match with an unnamed opponent, whom we can only assume is the Dubliner.
In the hours prior to Poirier’s tweet, former lightweight and featherweight champion, McGregor released a lengthy statement on his official Instagram account, breaking down his performance, as well as noting his admiration for Poirier’s calf kick heavy offence and overall tactical approach. Concluding his statement, McGregor detailed how he wasn’t anticipating a trilogy against Poirier ahead of the January rematch, however, welcomed the prospect of a rubber-match nevertheless.
In the days following McGregor’s second-round knockout defeat to the Louisianan, Straight Blast Gym head coach, John Kavanagh spoke with Helwani — detailing how the team hope to secure a May return against Poirier, ideally with vacant lightweight spoils on the line.
“He’s (Conor McGregor’s) already harassing everybody to get the rematch [with Dustin Poirier],” Kavanagh said. “So we would love the rematch. I don’t think Dustin is against that [a third fight]. Yeah, if we could get the rematch before the summer that’d be amazing. If it’s not to be, well then — I guess I don’t really know. Maybe he drifts off into the boxing side so, if the MMA community could help me here and get behind me and pester the UFC to give him another fight sooner rather than later, so I don’t lose him for six months to boxing, I’d appreciate that.“
“That’s the big drive — that’s the story [a third fight for a title],” Kavanagh said. “It’s 1-1, one-a-piece, they’re right up there in the rankings, they’re very popular fighters the two of them. I think they’ve a beautiful matchup, I think — stylistically, it’s beautiful to watch I’d love to see lots and lots of rounds of the two of them.”
“Dustin’s obviously riding high with confidence now. And with the more experience and the more weight, he took some of those shots and I’m sure he feels — I’m sure his confidence is super high at the moment. We have to fix that technique with the leg and watch out for a couple of other things as well. But, Dustin vs. Conor III for the belt, in I don’t know — May or something like that, wouldn’t that be amazing?“
The promotion is still currently billing Khabib Nurmagomedov as the undisputed lightweight championship holder despite his retirement all the way back in October, however, they’ve notably pencilled Charles Oliveira as the highest streaking fighter in the lightweight division with eight successive wins, with Nurmagomedov’s twelve-fight run no longer viewed as active.
In regards to vacant title hopeful, Oliveira, the Brazilian was reportedly offered a three-round, non-title bout with recent debutante, Michael Chandler at UFC 258 next weekend in a co-main event slot, however, the Sao Paulo submission specialist rejected the bout offer citing his need to challenge for gold in his next outing instead.