Thoughts about when to call it quits may never be entirely removed from the minds of lightweights Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, but they also never seem to be quite as immediate as either fighter has made it sound, either.
Gaethje may have told TMZ that he had “at least 5 more fights,” last year, shortly before losing his first chance at UFC gold against Khabib Nurmagomedov. But fans will remember that that’s the exact same number he told MMA Junkie way back in 2018, after losing to Poirier via KO… six fights ago.
And for Poirier—he may have made headlines earlier this year, when he suggested he could possibly start considering wrapping up his MMA career after completing his latest 8-fight contract. But anyone looking to turn that into a narrative about his current investment in the sport won’t find a man who sounds like he’s invested in the idea right now. That’s a point Poirier wanted to clarify, in a recent MMA Hour interview, after Gaethje took a shot at him, following the Trevor Wittman-trained fighter’s recent victory over Michael Chandler.
“If he beats Charles Oliveira, I don’t know if he fights me,” Gaethje posited in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I think he just walks away, calls it good. So I kind of hope Charles Oliveira wins so I get to fight him March, April, May. If Dustin Poirier wins, I’m going to have to really entice him to f-cking get in there again.”
Poirier may not have anything bad to say about Gaethje in return, noting that the top contender is just trying to play the hand he’s been dealt and set up future bouts, but he also made it clear that another bout against the former WSOF champ isn’t something he’d be looking to avoid.
“Nah, man. I’m a fighter,” he said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I’m fortunate enough now, with this year that I’ve had, I could walk away. It’s a great position to be in, but these guys need ass-whoopings, and I’m the guy to give it to them. And we can’t walk away like that.”
And as for Gaethje’s insistence that Poirier “was probably in the most pain of his f-cking life” after their first fight, and may be somehow haunted by the experience?
“I was back at the big Airbnb, we did like a house party, I’m drinking Modelos and I was fine,” Poirier sad of his memories following their 2018 clash. “[Gaethje] doesn’t have any memories of going back and looking at the fight, because I knocked him out… probably kind of cloudy. I remember the night, it was a great night.”
In the meantime, Poirier asserted that Gaethje should focus on tightening up his game, and avoiding the kinds of extreme damage he took against Michael Chandler.
“You have to be a thinking man in there, not just a brute, not just a wrecking ball—or you go in there and you get matadored. And that’s what I would do to those guys if they fought me that way.”
Dustin Poirier is set to fight Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title on December 11th, in the headlining slot of UFC 269. The card is also expected to feature a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Julianna Pena. After that, who knows? Maybe Poirier will be looking at another chance to prove he’s got Gaethje’s number inside the Octagon.
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