Dana White: Dustin Poirier being considered as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s first UFC title defence

Dustin Poirier made a statement on Saturday night, overcoming Justin Gaethje in a Fight of the Year candidate to stake his claim as one of the lightweight division’s top contenders.

“The Diamond” withstood heavy punishment to his legs to score an impressive knockout victory over the ever-durable Gaethje in the fourth round. In his post-fight interview, the Louisianan promptly called out newly-crowned UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov and UFC President Dana White has duly taken notice.

Poirier continued his campaign on the post-fight show. “I’ve paid my dues,” said Poirier as per MMAjunkie. “I’ve put nothing but hard work in. I’ve been close to the mountaintop and I’ve been knocked down.

“I’ve shown resilience and fortitude and I’ve done it over and over again to put myself back in the position I’m in, and I’m hitting my stride as a father, a fighter, a husband and a person. I’m ready to go, and gold is next. I smell it. I feel it in the air.”

White agreed with Poirier’s sentiments, saying: “Absolutely [he’s a title contender]. He’s definitely in there. He was one of the guys we were thinking about calling last to take the fight [at UFC 223], but we didn’t want to screw up this event. Thank God we didn’t.”

Since moving to the lightweight division, Poirier has gone 7-1 in the UFC with one No Contest. He has impressive wins over the likes of Anthony Pettis, Joe Duffy, Jim Miller, Bobby Green and now Gaethje.

After ex-champion Conor McGregor’s latest indiscretions and former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson’s recent knee injury likely keeping both men out for some time, Poirier could well find himself fighting for a UFC belt sometime soon.

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.