Former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier may not be squaring off with fellow former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson at UFC 254 after all.
UFC president Dana White has spoken openly about trying to put the bout together on the same fight card that features Khabib Nurmagomedov trying to unify his lightweight title with that of current interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Poirier vs. Ferguson would not only likely determine the next contender, it would also serve as a back-up to Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje should either of the main eventers have to withdraw from the fight. That is a more likely threat than ever now that multiple COVID-19 tests are the norm for any UFC fighter.
Fighters are required to test negative prior to boarding an airplane to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, where the bout would have taken place on Oct. 24. They are then tested again at least three more times in Abu Dhabi prior to the bout, and once again prior to leaving Yas Island.
Though White had spoken about Poirer vs. Ferguson almost as a foregone conclusion, he never said that the bout was a done deal. And for good reason, as Poirier has never come to terms with the fight promotion.
Poirier had recently traveled to Florida for a fight camp at American Top Team. On Thursday, however, he told ESPN that he couldn’t come to terms with the UFC and would be heading home to Louisiana.
“UFC and I didn’t come to terms. I will not be fighting on Oct. 24. I just need to be compensated if they want this fight. Simple as that. I’m a prize fighter and the prize needs to be right.”Dustin Poirier to ESPN
ESPN’s report noted that while Ferguson had verbally agreed to the bout, he had not yet put pen to paper either.
After losing to Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 last September, Poirier (26-6, 1NC) rebounded with a win over Dan Hooker on June 27. He also holds a win over Gaethje in 2018.
Ferguson lost to Gaethje in the UFC 249 main event, which was the fight promotion’s emergence from the coronavirus lockdown that reignited the sports world. Prior to that loss, Ferguson had won 12 consecutive bouts.
Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson has been booked on five separate occasions, but has never made it to the Octagon.