Helwani Show: Poirier eyes McGregor in wake of Khabib loss


The emotion that Dustin Poirier felt in the moments after he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 was palpable. Despite the UFC lightweight championship being within reach, and having moments during the fight in which he seemed to have one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world in peril, Poirier couldn’t get over the last hump.

In the immediate aftermath, in the disappointment he felt, Poirier even hinted that he might not want to fight again.

“My whole career and then, obviously, a 10-week training camp was preparing me for that night, and I felt like I did everything I could to be ready for that fight,” Poirier said Monday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “I got beat. I was in my feelings man, and it hurt. Sitting in my hotel room I said that, but that was just emotional.”

Now, 10 days removed from the fight, Poirier feels a little bit differently.

“Of course I’m going to fight again — these guys aren’t going to punch themselves in the face,” he said.

So what’s next? Conor McGregor, of course, at least if Poirier has his way.

“If we’re respecting the rankings here, he’s No. 3 and everyone else is pretty booked up,” Poirier said. “It makes sense. We both lost to the same guy in a world title fight.”

Poirier lost to McGregor at UFC 178 in September 2014, but he’s 9-2 with one no-contest since then.

“Financially, it makes a lot of sense,” Poirier continued. “[But] if the guy’s not going to fight, they’ve gotta take him out of the rankings, because he’s just going to keep log-jamming an already top-heavy division.”

When Poirier floated the idea of a McGregor rematch on Sept. 10, McGregor was quick to respond and point out that he knocked Poirier out in less than two minutes. Poirier feels like he’s a much different fighter in this stage, and all the circumstances add up to make this potential fight a no-brainer.

“If it’s that easy, do it again,” Poirier said.

After an embarrassing loss Saturday night, when his backflips and break-dancing overshadowed his fighting during UFC Fight Night in Vancouver, Michel Pereira received some advice from a most unlikely source.

Tristan Connelly was supposed to be another steppingstone for Pereira, who is an athletic and entertaining prospect. Connelly wasn’t even on the UFC roster until last week, when he received a call to be a last-minute fill-in to face Pereira. But instead of being another victim, Connelly scored a unanimous decision over his fatigued opponent, and then reached out to offer some wisdom.

“I said, ‘Man, I knew you were going to do that. I knew you were going to come out like that. I’m not saying don’t go crazy, I love your crazy, it’s amazing, I’m going to be a fan forever, but start a little more fundamentally,'” Connelly said Monday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “‘Take a little more time and then throw your crazy stuff in there and go back to being fundamental.

“One, you’re going to save way more energy and you’re going to recover, and two, I’m not going to be able to predict as much, or your opponent isn’t going to be able to predict as much. It’s going to have a way, way higher chance of working.’ I really hope he takes that and runs with it, because I’m a fan. I’m out of the (welterweight) division now (Connelly is a lightweight who moved up to take the fight), so I want to see him go on a tear and mess everyone up.”

If Connelly was the feel-good story of the night, that might be enhanced by the fact he tried to help Pereira after the bout. And Connelly is no stranger to coaching. In fact he was teaching his class in Vancouver when he received the call that he would be on the card.

“I get the phone call and ran around the gym screaming, celebrating, couldn’t have been happier,” Connelly said. “And basically didn’t sleep for the rest of the week. I slept last night, which was the first night I slept.”

Connelly’s debut couldn’t have gone much better. He won the full $100,000 Fight of the Night bonus, which included Pereira’s cut because he missed weight. He also took 20 percent of Pereira’s purse due to the missed weight. That’s on top of the money Connelly won for fighting and winning.

“I honestly feel like I deserve to be here,” Connelly said. “I honestly feel like I’ve been ready for a long time. I’m not surprised I did as well as I did.

“I knew that’s exactly how that fight was going to go. There was not a doubt in my mind. I knew how Michel was going to come out. I knew he had all this hype behind him. But I knew he wasn’t going to put me away in the first three minutes, and then after that it’s what next, what are you going to do when it’s my fight? If he had just taken a little more time, it would have been a different fight. But I knew watching his old fights, he had such success with jumping and knocking guys out spectacularly that I knew he had even more reason with me, five days’ notice, lightweight, 30 pounds bigger than me, maybe more, misses weight. I wasn’t worried for a second.”

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