In the main event of UFC 257, Poirier avenged his UFC 178 knockout loss to Conor McGregor by delivering a ferocious KO of his own in the second round of Saturday’s event in Abu Dhabi. “The Diamond” handed McGregor his first career loss of that nature as he improved to 11-2, 1 NC since their first meeting in September 2014.
Chiesa, who also earned a main event win on Fight Island earlier in the week over Neil Magny, was certainly impressed with Poirier.
“Dustin Poirier is such a good guy, such a good ambassador for the sport,” Chiesa told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “It’s easy to get sold and caught up into the hype. I mean, this is Conor McGregor we’re talking about. This guy has done some phenomenal things in the octagon. He’s had some stellar performances and his career has basically just been one big highlight reel.
“But the best prediction I heard came from Belal Muhammad. [He] hit the nail on the head, give that guy some credit. [He said] Poirier has been more hungry, he’s been active, fighting the toughest fights. Conor’s last fight before this one—no disrespect to my guy ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone—that was a very favorable matchup for Conor. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype.
“I’m very, very happy for Dustin Poirier. He deserves it.”
Chiesa is also helping to raise money for Poirier’s charity The Good Fight Foundation by auctioning off his fight worn walkout jacket. A lucky person will win the jacket, which will be autographed by Chiesa, and will get a private Zoom call with the former winner of The Ultimate Fighter. All proceeds will go to The Good Fight Foundation.
As amazing of a human being as Poirier is in Chiesa’s eyes with what he does through his foundation and the help it provides, the former lightweight turned welterweight was equally impressed with the little things the Louisiana native did so well over the just over seven minutes the fight lasted.
“What Dustin did so well was he got Conor thinking about everything going on from the waist down,” Chiesa explained. “The leg kicks, the takedown, it made Conor start to focus his hands from [head to legs]. He’s trying to start to catch the leg kick and that’s when you know something is starting to work. When they’re getting to a point where they can’t check it and they start to reach for it, that opens up the head shots a lot more.
“I think [another] thing he did really well was when Conor threw a few lazy jabs, Dustin did a great job pulling and countering, and just firing off of Conor’s shots. You have to do that against Conor McGregor. If he throws a lazy punch at you, or he touches you with one, you have to fire back immediately. Otherwise, he’s gonna start to steamroll after that. Dustin did a good job timing those, landing the punches, landing the leg kicks and he showed his full arsenal of tools he can use to win a fight, especially against a guy like Conor McGregor.”
McGregor has now lost two of three, and hasn’t earned a lightweight victory since his perfect game-like win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. “The Notorious” went on face Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match before returning to the octagon for his grudge match with Khabib Nurmagomdeov at UFC 229, where McGregor was submitted in the fourth round.
Heading out of the first PPV event of 2021, everyone wants to know—and has their theories for—what should be next for Poirier, McGregor, and the UFC lightweight title. As of this moment, Nurmagomedov is the titleholder but he’s also retired, with very little, if any, interest in coming back following his submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October.
Michael Chandler made a tremendous impact on the promotion with a first-round KO of Dan Hooker in the co-main event. While the former Bellator champion, and Dana White are in on a Poirier vs. Chandler matchup for the title, Poirier isn’t interested at all. In fact, he stated he’s more interested in a rematch with McGregor, a possible fight with the potentially returning Nate Diaz, and the surging Charles Oliveira—who seems to have the popular vote amongst the hardcore fan base.
Chiesa was asked what he would like to see next in the ultra fascinating title picture. Like most fans, there is a difference between what he would like to see from a fan’s perspective, and what he believes will ultimately happen.
“I would like to see Nate vs. Dustin, but that doesn’t make any sense at all,” Chiesa said. “That would be a slap in the face to some of the guys coming off of wins. When it comes to the title picture, that can get overlooked. We’ve seen Yoel Romero get title shots off of losses and things of that sort, but I think you have to keep the ball rolling with the trilogy. I think you have to do Dustin and Conor.
“If it was up to me, I would get Nate Diaz vs. Poirier, and then I’d go Gaethje vs. Conor. You’re always going to have the Nate Diaz trilogy with Conor. That’s gonna be there for life. Those fights were in a totally separate weight class so no matter how their careers go, you can make that happen at any point. But you can’t guarantee that Conor beats another contender. He has great skills but this is a very tough division. Don’t risk losing the option for this Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor trilogy. I think you make that one next.
“Then you do Michael Chandler vs. Charles Oliveira, and then you can do Dan Hooker vs. Nate Diaz. I think that’s what makes the most sense.”
There have been folks who have suggested that McGregor take a step back, maybe get himself outside of the title discussion for a little while. If that does happen, Chiesa would love to see McGregor face one of his broadcast colleagues.
“You can go Conor McGregor vs. Paul Felder,” Chiesa suggested. “There’s something there. There’s been some jabs, could be some good pre-fight buildup and it would be funny to hear Bruce Buffer say Paul ‘The German Dragon’ Felder if he actually said it.”