LOS ANGELES — Think Dustin Poirier wanted to fight Conor McGregor because of a personal vendetta against the fast-talking Irishman? Think again.
Poirier holds no ill will toward McGregor and knows beating him doesn’t necessarily put him on track for a title shot. But the Louisiana native saw dollar signs and chased them — kind of like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, if you will.
"This is the biggest fight that I could get into without it being a title eliminator fight," Poirier said Tuesday at a fan event at Club Nokia in Downtown LA. "That’s why I did this. This is a business."
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The extremely charismatic McGregor stole the show during the fan Q&A on Tuesday, even with headliners Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier also up on stage. Poirier was pretty subdued. He’s not the trash-talking type. But he was probably smiling on the inside. In his mind, McGregor is going to sell the fight with his mouth and Poirier is going to finish it with his fists. The two will meet at UFC 178 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas.
"He might really believe the stuff he says, but I’m going to show him it’s not true," Poirier said. "If it is for show, great. He’s promoting himself. He’s got himself a long way in three fights. But at the same time he’s got himself into a really serious situation now. It’s a little bit too soon for him, I think."
This is the biggest fight that I could get into without it being a title eliminator fight.
Poirier (16-3) is currently ranked No. 5 among UFC featherweight contenders. He has won three in a row with two straight finishes over Diego Brandao and Akira Corassani. The 25-year-old could be asking to fight someone like No. 2 Cub Swanson or No. 3 Frankie Edgar. Instead, he’s going after McGregor by design, though the Irishman is behind him at No. 9.
"That’s why I reached out," Poirier said. "I don’t usually talk crap about guys. But I did that on Twitter to get this fight, because I saw an opportunity right after he beat Brandao."
McGregor finished Brandao at 4:05 of the first round by TKO last month in his hometown of Dublin. Poirier was not impressed with the performance. He knocked out Brandao at 4:54 of the first round himself. Poirier owed some of it to the 9,000-plus fans in attendance going crazy for McGregor. And he doesn’t necessarily respect Brandao either.
"It’s safe to say we both fought a punching bag, OK?" Poirier said.
The way Poirier figures it, there is time to get back on the title path. Champion Jose Aldo and No. 1 contender Chad Mendes will fight at UFC 179 on Oct. 25. Edgar and Swanson seem to be on a collision course. Poirier didn’t want to wait any longer and he wanted a big-money fight.
So, why not pick one with one of the fastest rising stars in the UFC?
"This is a big fight and Conor talks it up," Poirier said. "And I’ve heard his name tossed around in the title mix. If he’s getting tossed around in there, I definitely deserve it."
Of course, there is a part of Poirier that wants to shut McGregor up, too. Poirier said the two sat across from each other at a UFC dinner in England earlier this year and McGregor seemed like a normal guy. But all the trash-talking on Twitter has rubbed him the wrong way. He and McGregor have not spoken since, even though they were on a press tour together this week.
"I don’t want to speak to him," Poirier said. "My hands do the talking Sept. 27. He’s a jerk. He’s full of himself. And I’m going to beat him up. Simple."