The winner of the upcoming interim lightweight title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier will move onto unify the championships with reigning 155-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
UFC president Dana White put any other rumors to rest on Friday during the UFC 236 pre-fight press conference while confirming either Holloway or Poirier will be next when Nurmagomedov returns later this year.
“Correct. Everybody who’s up here today, whoever wins that belt, they move into the title fight,” White said while also confirming either Kelvin Gastelum or Israel Adesanya would move onto face Robert Whittaker following their interim title fight at UFC 236.
The questions surrounding the lightweight division were fair considering Tony Ferguson had seemingly done everything possible to earn a title shot including an interim title of his own that he won after beating Kevin Lee in 2017.
Unfortunately, White says Ferguson had his opportunity to compete for the interim title at UFC 236 and he turned it down, which means he’s going to have to sit and wait for another shot at gold for a later date.
“I don’t know. I can’t think about Tony Ferguson right now. I just offered Tony Ferguson a fight. I offered him that fight, he turned it down, for whatever reason,” White stated.
“Listen, that guy has his reasons for not wanting to take the fight. So he was offered, he declined, we move on.”
White also knocked down claims from former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez this past week where he talked about interim titles being handed out in a way to prevent paying the fighters involved more money.
White says that couldn’t be further from the truth because interim title holders still reap the benefits as an undisputed champion when they go to unify the belts.
“I saw some talk the other day, I think it was Eddie Alvarez, and I like Eddie, I have a great relationship with Eddie, but he was talking about how we give interim titles so you don’t have to pay the guy so much or some weird comment like that,” White said.
“When you win the interim title belt, you’re looked at as a title holder. So when you go into a title fight, both guys share in the pay-per-view revenue. If you’re a contender without the interim title, you don’t. So there’s nothing bad about holding an interim belt going into a title fight.”