Poirier accepted the challenge, which the UFC has yet to finalize. But “The Diamond” also believes there are other underlying factors at play, particularly in relation to McGregor’s planned return to boxing.
“Going back to why I think he wants this fight, it’s because he’s angling to fight Pacquiao,” Poirier told trainer Teddy Atlas in a recent conversation. “That was in the news. So I don’t know if the UFC wants him to fight one more time before they allow him to fight Pacquiao, or if he just wants to get one more this year before starting next year with the Pacquiao fight. But what better way to do it against another southpaw?
“I think that might be part of his mind set. He wants to fight another southpaw before he fights another southpaw. I don’t know what’s going on, but I think that’s what the alignment is.”
Poirier was a 25-year-old featherweight when he first fought McGregor. While he already had a significant amount of experience under his belt at the time, he admits letting other external factors get the better of him.
Now a lightweight at 31, with vast improvement in terms of skills, he’s not even thinking about getting even.
“That (loss is) gonna be hanging over my head, for sure,” Poirier said. “But also, to combat that, is like you said, my experience. And my mindset is different. I’m not a young, mad-at-the-world, mad-at-critics kid anymore. I know who I am. There’s no enemy within, so there’s no enemy outside.
“I’m comfortable with who I am, I believe in my skills. I think before the last fight, a lot of the trash talk, a lot of the critics… I walked into the combat arena feeling like I was fighting more than the man across from me. I felt like I was fighting the organization, the fans, the critics. Just everybody, the media. I felt like I was fighting everyone. I had something to prove to everyone.
“It’s not even about revenge,” he added. “It’s just about life, and fighting, and goals, and destiny. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about revenge, I’m not trying to get even with this guy.”
McGregor says he’ll be ready to step in as early as UFC 255 on November 21st. But he’s also willing to fight at UFC 256 on December 12, and even the non-PPV event a week later, as long as it happens in 2020.
For his part, McGregor confirmed what Poirier said.